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Immigration Corner | Can my sister get a new Jamaican passport?

Published:Tuesday | May 28, 2019 | 12:13 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I'm a concerned brother. My sister who is 44 years old is having problems renewing her Jamaican passport. When she was 18 years old, her boyfriend told her that he could get her a US visa, but she had to be married. He said being married to him, because he was a police officer, would make it easier for her. He got fake paperwork and pretended that they were legally married. He then took it to the Jamaican passport office and got a friend of his to put his surname on her passport.

A few years later they broke up and she was left with the problem. For years she has wanted to renew her passport but can't because her married name is on the passport but not in the office system because she was never legally married.

Is there anything she can do to resolve this problem without facing the court? Your reply is most important to me.


Dear N,

Unfortunately, there are many persons in your sister’s situation where they did something illegal when they were young and that decision follows them for the rest of their lives. Far too often people are preyed upon and because of inexperience, they go willingly down the path of illegal activity because they are seeking short-term gain.

In this situation you did not say if your sister also attempted to get a US visa and what was the outcome of that application. If she used the fake passport to apply for a United States Visa, she committed US immigration fraud and would be inadmissible to the US. That is, she used/gave false information to receive an immigration benefit. This fraud will always be against her for the rest of her life. She would only be able to receive a US immigration visa – immigrant or non-immigrant – if the United States granted her a waiver.

The passport that she has is fraudulent and she should consult with a lawyer in Jamaica who has experience dealing in such matters as to what are her options to remedy the situation and apply for a legitimate passport. She must be totally candid with the attorney, including disclosing whether she used the passport to seek benefits. She may ultimately have to face the Jamaican courts for her misdeed.

If she is convicted by the Jamaican authorities for her actions, she would have to disclose this conviction to the US government in any subsequent visa application. This criminal conviction would present an added layer of inadmissibility to the United States and would also require a waiver before she could be granted any type of visa.

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.