Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
My husband's mother filed for him in May of 2005. I lived in the States with our son for three years and came back to Jamaica two years ago. I have a Social Security card, as does my husband.
I set up emails for me to get information from the United States (US) immigration site for updates and have never got any. I am the one who both my mother-in-law and husband will ask from time to time about this and to make checks even though I am the wife and my name is not on any documents. We have seen where others get a couple of months to leave the country because of not responding to the immigration service, and we would not like that to happen, especially because we have not moved or heard anything.
I always read your advice, and this is what I would usually tell my family. How will we get any information regarding this? I called immigration when I was living in the States and was told that it was in the hands of the US and they had nothing to do with it. A friend, whose mother had done the same for her, said it would take about seven years because he is married and has children. We need to know what is going on and what would be needed to prepare ourselves in order to not be in a rush at the last minute. We have another child, but he was born when we lived in the US, so he would not be affected, right?
I just need to know what we need to do and what to prepare for.
A petition filed by a US citizen parent for his or her married child (F3 visa category) is taking just over 10 years for a visa to become available. United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) first processes the petition, and once it is approved, it is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing and to wait on the visa to become available before the file is sent to the US Embassy in Kingston for the interview.
You didn't indicate where the file is. If the file was approved, the approval notice will have the priority date. Based on that date, you can determine approximately how much time is left for you and your husband to wait on your visa. If you have not already been asked for the visa and affidavit of support fees by the NVC, that should be the next step. After the fees are paid, the necessary forms will need to be completed and the police reports and other civil documents should be submitted.
Six months to leave
When the invoice for the fees arrive, if it is only sent for your husband, he should advise the NVC about you and the Jamaica-born children - including sending your original marriage and birth certificates and copies of the biometric (information) page of your passports. When your visa is approved at the US Embassy, you are normally given six months to leave Jamaica to make your first entry to the United States. Once you have entered the US, you are free to return to Jamaica to finalise your affairs before returning to the US permanently. Just do not let the stamped visa in the passport expire with you in Jamaica and without the actual Green Card.
My concern for you, however, is that you indicated that you lived in the United States for three years. You did not indicate what your immigration status was during those three years. If you were in legal status, e.g. an H1-B or H-2B visa, then there should not be a problem at your interview. However, if you were in unlawful (expired) status in the US for a year or more, you will have to remain outside of the US for 10 years before you will be allowed to return - unless the petitioner can demonstrate "extreme" hardship to themselves that would only be alleviated if you (and your husband) are allowed to migrate.
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States and family, criminal & personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator, and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. firstname.lastname@example.org.