Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Daddy's delay

Published:Tuesday | March 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Hello Mrs
Walker-Huntington,

I
am

a Canadian citizen living in Canada. I am single - no kids and have never been married.

I am over 30 and my dad has been a green card holder for many years living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is 64 and does not work. He lives off his pension, plus his social security benefits monthly.

My dad does not want United States (US) citizenship and has never had a problem with the law - he is just lazy to go get his citizenship.

What I would like to know is, how long would it take if my dad were to sponsor me to come to the US and get my green card? Or, can his ex-wife sponsor me, and, how long would it take her to get my US papers? His ex-wife also lives in Florida.

My next question is, I would like to know, if my same-sex partner (female) marries me in New Jersey, can she sponsor me to come live in the US? She is a green card holder.

A green card holder can petition for an unmarried adult child to join them in the US. Those petitions currently take eight to nine years.

The fact that your permanent resident father is no longer employed is not a barrier to you receiving your green card. At the back-end of the application process, your father would have to submit an Affidavit of Support to declare to the US government that you would not become a public charge on the country. He can use his income from his pension along with his social security benefits towards the income he needs to show the authorities he earns. Your father must meet the poverty threshold to show that he can support himself, any dependents he currently has and you, in the US.

Use assets

If your father's income does not meet the guidelines, he can produce assets that are easily converted to cash - that is, equal to five times the difference he is lacking. Or, in the alternative, he can secure the assistance of any friend or relative who is a US citizen or permanent resident, who can prove they can support themselves, their family and you - according to the Department of Homeland Security's guidelines.

If your father were to become a US citizen, it would cut your waiting time for a green card to approximately six years. It is in his best interest to become a US citizen since he has lived in America for so long. He may decide he wants to come home to Jamaica to retire or spend more time in Jamaica than in the US. As a green card holder, he could lose his permanent residency status if he spends too much time outside the US. Also, if he is ever arrested, his green card could be in jeopardy. If he loses his green card/permanent residency status, he will lose his social security and any other benefits which he may be entitled to after working for many years in America.

While same-sex marriages or partnerships are recognised in some states, US immigration laws do not recognise such unions as legal for immigration purposes. Bear in mind that the status of same-sex marriages and partnerships are very new to the US legal system. No one knows if at a later date, Congress or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may recognise such unions as valid marriages for immigration purposes. Or, in the alternative, a same-sex couple may decide to challenge the existing law, by presenting themselves to USCIS for a green card, and after denial, challenge the ruling through the court system all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practices in Florida in the areas of immigration, family, corporate and "personal injury law. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. info@walkerhuntington.com or editor@gleanerjm.com.

US immigration laws do not recognise same-sex marriages unions as legal for immigration purposes.