Thu | Feb 25, 2021

Immigration Corner | Will marrying my boyfriend jeopardise his filing?

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2021 | 12:06 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I hope you are in good health and this new year brings you favourable blessings. I saw your email address in an article in The Gleaner and decided to seek your advice.

I am trying to establish whether or not getting married to my spouse will affect his filing process.

In 2016-17 his grandmother, who is a US citizen, filed for him and his daughter. We would very much like to get married at the soonest, but he does not want to hinder the process of his filing.

How will us getting married affect his filing, if at all, and what can be done to correct the effect should we get married?

Anticipating a most favourable response.

– T.T.

Dear T.T.,

Thank you for the new year blessings.

First off, let me advise you to only refer to someone to whom you are legally married as your spouse. To call your partner, fiancé, boy/girlfriend your spouse in the United States can lead to problems, especially in the immigration context.

You stated that your partner was filed for by his grandmother. That is not possible. A United States citizen can only file a petition for a green card for their husband/wife, son, daughter, parent or sibling. In the situation where a US citizen files a petition for their son or daughter and there is a grandchild – under 21 years of age – that grandchild can be a derivative beneficiary. From your email, I would say that your boyfriend is over 21 years old.

If he is under 21 years of age and marries as the derivative beneficiary, his petition would be voided. If he is the direct beneficiary (e.g., his US citizen mother filed the petition) and he marries before he has his immigrant visa interview, he would change categories and delay his green card by approximately six years. If he is the direct beneficiary and goes for his interview as single, is approved but marries before he enters the United States, he also voids his green card. (Same applies if he marries before the interview but withholds this fact from the authorities). It is important to note that a beneficiary must enter the United States as single if that is the category in which he/she received the green card approval; otherwise he/she enters fraudulently.

Once you clarify which category your boyfriend is in and who filed the petition for him to migrate, you can then plan your lives accordingly.

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.