Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
My mother has been a Green Card holder for three years and is looking to file for my sister and me and our children, starting next year. Will this take a long time, since she has not filed for her citizenship as yet? My sister has a son who will be 30 years of age in December. He is not married and neither is my sister. While I am not married either, I have custody of my cousin's child, who has been with our family since she was six months old. My cousin is dead. Can the child be put on the filing along with me? Also, my mother will be 72. Can she sponsor us, or does she need to get assistance from other family members?
A Green Card holder can file a Green Card petition for their minor children (F2A Category) and their over-21-year-old, unmarried son or daughter (F2B Category) and their derivative children. The waiting period for persons like you in the F2B category varies, but at this time, the waiting period is eight years. When your mother is eligible, she should apply for her US citizenship, and once she is naturalised, she should inform either US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), or the National Visa Center (NVC) - depending on what stage the application is at - of her newly acquired citizenship. That would move your application to the F1 Category. This will shorten the waiting period by approximately one year. The waiting period does also vary in this category, so over time, it may be shorter or longer.
Derivative children such as your sister's son have to be 21 years or younger at the time of the interview in order to qualify as a derivative beneficiary. Some persons older than 21 years of age may also qualify if the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) can be applied to their case. Your nephew, who is already 30 years old, will definitely not be able to be classified as a derivative beneficiary. Your sister would have to eventually file a Green Card petition on his behalf at a later date.
Your cousin's child, who has been in your custody, would need to be adopted by you in order to be classified as a derivative beneficiary and be able to migrate with you when the time comes (depending on the age). Many persons in Jamaica are raising children who are not their birth children, and when the adult is petitioned for by a US relative, there is a problem with the child being able to migrate. It is in everyone's best interests to adopt these children not only for immigration purposes, but also for inheritance, and other reasons.
At age 72, your mother is probably retired. At the stage of the processing where an affidavit of support is required, your mother would need a joint financial sponsor and that person can be a family member or a friend (Green Card holder or US citizen).
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practices immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org