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Immigration Corner | Denied visa for medical care

Published:Monday | May 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My son is a legal permanent resident in Florida, and I am the caregiver for his disabled daughter in Jamaica. He lives in a two-bedroom apartment with his wife and stepson in Florida. If he files for his daughter, how long will it take, and does he need to have a house with a room for his daughter? She was turned down at the US embassy last year when I tried to get a visa for an appointment at a hospital in Philadelphia on the grounds that her father needed to file for her.

Can he file for her, and is there any chance that she would be given a visa to go to the hospital in Philadelphia during the period of filing? If she becomes a legal permanent resident, does she need to go right away, or can I take her to the hospital and back to Jamaica until he sends for her?

- C.V.


Dear C.V.

It is unfortunate that the consular office at the US Embassy was so callous as to turn away someone with an immediate medical need because they have a US resident parent. While the consular officers look at ties to a person's homeland when considering a non-immigrant visa application, the medical reason for travel in this case ought to have outweighed any concerns about migration. Likewise, the time it takes for someone to petition for residency for a relative should also have been taken into consideration when a medical need is the reason for travel.

You did not indicate how old your granddaughter is, but if she is under 21 years old, it is currently taking two years for a legal permanent resident parent's petition to be processed. The problem is that if she turns 21 before the interview, she will age out of that category into one that takes seven years. If she is over 21 at filing, it is currently taking seven years until a visa will be available.

If she was under 18 years old when her father married his US citizen wife, the stepmom can file for her, and if she is under 21 years old, it should take nine months to a year. She won't age out in this instance if she turns 21 while the petition is pending.

If she has a medical emergency that has to be treated overseas, you should apply again for a non-immigrant visa with the medical documents and ask to see a supervisor at the embassy when you return for humanitarian consideration. It appears that your son is not ready to have his daughter live with him in America and this should be stated in writing when you return to the embassy.

Good luck!

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States, and family, criminal, international, and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator, and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida.