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Immigration Corner | Planning for a US Valentine

Published:Monday | January 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I intend to visit my wife in February 2018 for our first Valentine experience as husband and wife since being married in July of 2017. Will that create any problem for me? Is it legal for me to travel while I am being filed for?

- K.M.

Dear K.M.,

It is not illegal for someone to travel to the United States (US) while a petition for US residency is pending. However, it is important that you are completely truthful with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer upon arrival in the States. Sometimes, persons are questioned at the border about the purpose of their visit. If you are, please ensure that you tell the officer that you are in the US to visit your wife - whether she is a US citizen or a green-card holder.

Every visitor and green-card holder at a US port of entry is asking the CBP officer for permission to be admitted into the US. For many different reasons, a CBP officer may find you inadmissible and take a variety of measures to deny entry. A person is not automatically denied entry into the States if the individual has a residency petition pending. However, if the CBP officer has reason to believe that you are otherwise inadmissible, you will be denied entry. For example, if in your case the officer should decide that you are coming to the US to remain beyond your authorised stay, the officer could deny your entry.

You should, therefore, travel with proof that you will be returning to Jamaica after your Valentine's visit with your wife. If you have a business or are employed in Jamaica, you should travel with proof of same to show the CBP officer if necessary.

Travelling to spend your first Valentine's Day with your wife is admirable and will count towards the validity of your marriage during your interview at the US Embassy for your green card. Be sure to take pictures and keep your boarding passes as proof of your visit.

- 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.