Thu | Sep 23, 2021

Immigration Corner | My 75-y-o aunt needs to get her visa back

Published:Tuesday | February 23, 2021 | 12:06 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker Huntington,

In 2019, my aunt (who lives in America and is a citizen of the United States) came to renew my other aunt’s (who visits America but lives in Jamaica) visa. My aunt who lives in Jamaica has health issues and as a family, we have collectively taken care of her all her life. My mother, who was her primary caregiver for the last 20-30 years, passed away in 2018. The embassy revoked my aunt’s visa stating, “She has no assets tying her to Jamaica and at her age (75) she will be a burden on the system.”

My aunt has travelled back and forth between the US and Jamaica for the last 15-20 years and has never overstayed her time.

Now the responsibility of taking care of her has fallen in my lap. I have health complications of my own and find the day-to-day care at times taxing.

My aunt has six brothers and sisters who reside in the United States, as well as several nieces and nephews who also reside in the US. Only my brother and I reside in Jamaica.

How can I get back her visitor’s visa? It’s not my intention to ship her off, but I do need a break from time to time. Can you please help?

– HH

Dear HH,

Every applicant for a non-immigrant US visa – anywhere in the world – must convince the US consular officer that they intend to make a temporary trip to the United States. They must also demonstrate that they have significant ties to their home country to which they intend to return. The consular officer will want to see documentary evidence of the person’s ties to their home country, and that evidence varies from situation to situation.

A person age 75 with no ties to Jamaica can raise a red flag that they have nothing to return to Jamaica to, and coupled with the fact that most of the person’s relatives are living in America, it increases the presumption that the applicant will not return to Jamaica. Notwithstanding your stating that you only want your aunt to make a temporary trip so that you can get a break from her constant care, it would not appear that your aunt might not be able to convince a consular officer that she would return at the end of her stated trip.

You indicated that she has never “overstayed”, but it makes me curious about the length of her trips to America. So often, people believe that if they are given six months by the immigration officer at the airport, they are free to remain for several months if they do not go over the six months. I do not know if your aunt has done this in the past, but this is one of the reasons why visas are revoked or not renewed. The six months the immigration officer at the airport grants you to stay is done out of convenience for people who come to the US for a few weeks, but circumstances caused them to extend their visit. It is not blanket permission for anyone to remain in the US for months at a time – and especially not a permission to keep doing it time after time.

Your aunt is not entitled to a visa and it sounds as if currently, she has enough ties to Jamaica to show that she will return. If her situation changes, she can reapply for a visa at any time. You may also consider seeking assistance from her family in America to help to pay for a caregiver to assist you with your aunt’s care.

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 diversity and inclusion consultant; and former special magistrate and hearing officer in Broward County, Florida.