Dear Mrs Huntington:
My fiancÚ's dad wants to file for him and has advised us against getting married until the process is complete. Our wedding is set for March 2014, and his dad says the process should be complete within nine to 12 months. My fiancÚ is 37, and I read somewhere that because of his age, the process will be much longer.
Please advise us as to what our best options are. Thank you.
As an adult, unmarried son of a US citizen, if your fiancÚ's father were to file a petition for him to live in the United States (US), your fiancÚ would be placed in the first preference category (F1). Currently, the priority date being processed in September 2013 in the F1 category is September 6, 2006. If your fiancÚ's father is a green card holder, your fiancÚ would be in the F2A preference category, and the priority date for September 2013 is February 15, 2006.
It is not currently possible for a petition filed for an over-21-year-old son or daughter to take nine to 12 months to be processed.
If your fiancÚ's father is a green card holder, and you get married, the petition will die, as a green card holder cannot file for a married child. If the petitioner is a US citizen, and you marry after the filing is done as a single son, or if you marry now, and then are filed for, your preference category will be F3, and that category is current for petitions filed before January 22, 2003.
The United States Senate passed an immigration bill in June, and there is a provision in that bill that would prevent US citizen parents from filing for their married children age 31 years and older. No one knows if or when that bill will become a law - it depends on whether the US House of Representatives passes a bill with the same language and if President Obama signs it into law.
The same bill would deem spouses of green card holders as immediate relatives, and that means it would take nine to 12 months for spouses outside the United States to join their other half in the US.
If your soon-to-be father-in-law files now for your fiancÚ the wait is currently seven years (subject to change). If you get married now, and your father-in-law files for his son, the wait is currently 10 years (subject to change).
If you cannot wait seven years to get married, then you may be better off getting married now (small, civil ceremony - you could still have your March 2014 wedding), and having your father-in-law file, and you and your husband can wait together in Jamaica while the petition is pending - keeping in mind that if the immigration law is enacted in its current state, a US citizen would no longer be able to file for a married son over 31 years old.
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises 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.