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Immigration Corner | Can a green card holder file for a fiancé?

Published:Tuesday | February 19, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington:

If someone’s spouse is in the United States (US) and is a green card holder, can he put in a petition for a fiancé visa for his spouse or does he have to wait until he applied for his US citizenship? Thank you.

– YW


Dear YW,

A spouse is a married person. In Jamaica we tend to use this word to mean a boyfriend/girlfriend, a person with whom we are having a committed relationship or a person with whom we are living in a common-law relationship. This use of the word ‘spouse’ has caused many a Jamaican to be in a lot of trouble with US immigration because of its meaning. It is important to make the distinction as words matter, and misuse can have dire consequences. Persons have been known to check a box as married when in fact they are not because they refer to their partner as their spouse. An error such as that is often construed as fraud and is a permanent bar to travelling to United States, unless a person is granted a Waiver.

From your question it is clear that there is not a legal marriage between the parties. They may be in a committed relationship or may even have lived together before the boyfriend left for the United States. As a permanent resident/green card holder, a person cannot file for a Fiancé visa, only an American citizen has that privilege.

A fiancé visa allows the recipient and their minor children to travel to the United States and marry their American citizen fiancé within 90 days. There are parameters to qualify for a fiancé visa, including that the parties have to declare their love for each other and their intention to marry. Additionally, showing that the parties have met is important and their communication during their courtship.

As a green card holder, the boyfriend is allowed to marry his Jamaican fiancé and petition for her to migrate to the United States as a Permanent Resident. That process is currently taking approximately two years from filing to interview at the US Embassy in Jamaica.

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