Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington:
I have been in a relationship with a very lovely lady for a year or so. I am a Canadian citizen living in Canada, and she is a United States (US) citizen living in the US. She has custody of her two teenage children so there is no way she could consider moving to Canada. I would have to make the move over to the US. I am just wondering how this would work as she does not really have a job, she does child day care from her house. Would she have to go find a job? How much would she have to earn to sponsor me? I am already a dual citizen, Jamaican and Canadian. Do I have to say anything to Immigration when I enter the states to visit her?
I really don't want to start a process which might become complicated. What are my options? We are both the same age. Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.
As a US citizen, your girlfriend can marry you and file for you for US permanent residency. You can either remain in Canada while the process is being completed, or, 30-45 days after one of your visits to her in the United States, you can decide to get married and she can file to adjust your status while you remain in the US. You should not make any attempt to change your status before being in the US for at least 30 days, because, at your immigration interview, it will be presumed that you intended to change your status when you entered the US on your visit and therefore abused your entry privileges as a visitor.
If she were to file and you go to the US embassy in Canada for your interview, the process should take about nine months. If she files to change your status during one of your visits to the US, that process should take about four months. In both scenarios, your wife would have to file an affidavit of support - even if she has no income or insufficient income. In your situation, your family would consist of yourself, your wife, and her two children, for a family of four. She would currently have to show income of at least $28,812. This amount will remain in effect until March, 2013. If your wife claims anyone else on her income tax return or if she has ever done an affidavit of support for someone for whom she is still obligated to support, they would have to be added to your family size and the amount of income would increase.
If your wife's income is insufficient to sustain the household as per the guidelines, you would require a joint financial sponsor. That person on their own would have to show income to support themselves, their family and you - the intending immigrant.
Anybody completing an affidavit of support has to substantiate their income, i.e. they have to provide income tax returns (copy from the IRS if they are self-employed), Form W-2 and or 1099, job letter and pay stubs.
During your visits to your girlfriend in the US, just answer the Customs and Border Protection officers truthfully, no matter what questions they ask.
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. email@example.com.