Mon | Mar 1, 2021

Immigration Corner | Will my wife’s petition go faster than my mother’s?

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2021 | 12:05 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I hope you are doing well. I have a concern that I need your assistance with.

My American girlfriend is proposing that we get married this year so she could start filing for me. However, I’m concerned about the filing process because my mother, who is a permanent resident in the US, is already filing for me. I have not yet received any paperwork from my mom’s filing, although she said she has initiated the process. My girlfriend is of the view that marrying her will get me into the US faster. I await your reply.

Thanks in advance.

– C.G.

Dear C.G.,

A petition for permanent residence filed by a US citizen spouse is an immediate relative petition and is processed as quickly as possible. It usually takes nine months to one year from filing to interview at the US Embassy in Kingston. However, 2020 threw all timelines out the window with the global pandemic and the closure of the US Embassy for extended periods. Likewise, although the US Embassy is currently interviewing immediate relative beneficiaries, social distancing and COVID-19 protocols result in less persons being interviewed on any given day. As of the writing of this column, the only interviews being conducted are for immediate relatives as per the extension to March 31, 2021, of the Presidential Proclamation issued by the previous American president in 2020.

Assuming that you are over 21 years old, as the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition filed by a permanent resident parent, your petition would be placed in the F2A preference category. It is currently taking five and a half years for a visa to become available in that category. If you marry while your green card holder mother’s petition is pending, that petition would become void because a green card holder cannot file for a married son/daughter. In your situation, that would not matter as you would be marrying an American citizen.

As the spouse of an American citizen, you would need to prove that your marriage is valid for immigration purposes and was not entered into to circumvent the laws of the United States. In that regard, ensure that you keep all the evidence of your relationship and are prepared to present documentary evidence at your interview and to answer questions about your courtship and marriage.

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 diversity and inclusion consultant; and former special magistrate and hearing officer in Broward County, Florida.