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Immigration Corner | What is a universal filing?

Published:Tuesday | December 1, 2020 | 12:06 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

What is a universal filing? My husband, who is filing for me, told me that he already paid for everything such as fingerprints, medical, and so on.

However, he doesn’t have a case number or any form of proof to show that he did so. Please tell me in detail what a universal filing is so I can know if he is lying.

– Name Withheld

Dear Writer,

I do not know what a universal filing is. I have never heard that phrase. It could be, however, that your husband hired an attorney and paid all the attorney’s fees and filing fees upfront.

You did not indicate if you and your husband were both in the United States or if your husband is in America and you are in Jamaica. If your husband is an American citizen, you and your husband are in the US, and you arrived legally in the US – you entered with a passport and visa in your name, and you were inspected by a Customs and Border Protection Officer – your husband can file to change/adjust your status to a permanent resident. In that instant, all forms would be filed at the same time and all fees, including fingerprint fees (biometrics), would be paid at the same time. It would take a couple weeks to receive the receipt notices with the receipt numbers.

However, if you are in Jamaica and your husband is going to file for you to join him in America, the Consular process goes in two stages. The first stage is done with US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and after approval, the filing moves to the second stage with the US Department of State. The filing fees are paid in two stages, and if your husband is using an attorney, that person may request their fees in two stages or may want all the attorney’s fees upfront.

You indicated that your husband said he paid for your medical examination. That payment would be made to a doctor – either in the United States if you are doing adjustment of status or to a designated medical provider in Jamaica. In either event, you the beneficiary would undergo the medical examination. If you are in the United States, you would submit to the medical examination, and the sealed report would be given to you to submit to USCIS either with the filing or at your interview. If you are in Jamaica and going through the process of an embassy interview, that medical examination is not scheduled until the file is scheduled for interview in Kingston.

You and your husband need to have a heart-to-heart conversation to ensure that you both understand the process and that neither of you is being misled by the other or any third party.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, esq is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States and family, criminal, and international law in Florida. She is a mediator and former special magistrate and hearing officer in Broward County, Florida.