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Immigration Corner | Too young for a visa?

Published:Monday | August 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I have a friend in Jamaica who would like to visit me here in the US. We have a long- distance relationship. She wants to visit and see how she likes the US, then return home to Jamaica and maybe apply for a visa for her three-year-old son, if she decides to come back to the US. She recently applied for a tourist visa, but was rejected because of her age. She is 23. Why would they reject her because of age? And how many years do we need to wait for her to be an acceptable age to visit the US?

- R.B.


Dear RB,

All applicants for a non-immigrant visa (including a tourist visa) are presumed to have an intention to migrate to the States, that is, not return to their home country once they arrive in America. The applicants have to prove to the satisfaction of the US consular officer that they have sufficient ties to their home country to which they will return after a visit.

What your girlfriend told the consular officer during her interview, e.g. the purpose of her visit, her employment status, etc. would determine if the officer, subjectively believed that she would return to Jamaica after visiting you in America. As a 23-year-old, single woman she clearly did not convince the officer. There is no specific age for obtaining a non-immigrant visa.

What you could do if you have not yet already met her, is to visit Jamaica yourself and ensure the relationship has solid footing. Afterwards, you can apply for a fiance visa for your girlfriend and her young child to be with you in America. If approved, they would travel to America and both of you would have 90 days to decide if you both like living together and that she is comfortable in America. You would need to then marry her within the 90 days and file for her and your then stepson to change their status to lawful permanent residents of the US.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration and international 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.