Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
I am 20 years old, unmarried, and I live in Jamaica. My father, who is a United States (US) citizen, sent in my paperwork September of this year. How long will it take for the filing process to be completed? Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
As an under-21-year-old child of a US citizen, you are considered an immediate relative. As such, your father's petition for permanent residency on your behalf will be processed as soon as possible, which usually means if all is in order, nine months to one year. This classification as an immediate relative will remain with you even if you attain the age of 21 years before the process is completed.
You will not 'age out' as others might who are not the direct beneficiary of a US citizen parent's petition. For example, if a brother files for his sister and her family and one of his nieces or nephews turns 21 years old before the filing is completed, as a derivative beneficiary of the uncle's filing, the niece or nephew may age out of the filing. A complicated calculation under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) is required on each case to determine whether the young person can be protected under the CSPA and will be allowed to travel.
Your petition might hit roadblocks if your father and mother were not married when you were born and did not marry before you became 18 years old. US Citizenship and Immigration Services will more than likely want you and your father to prove your biological relationship as well as your parent-child relationship. In anticipation of this request, you should both begin to locate documentary proof of your relationship.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org.