Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Immigration Corner | What should I do about my filing?

Published:Tuesday | October 5, 2021 | 12:05 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Dahlia Walker-Huntington,

A filing was being done for my children and me by my father, who is a green card holder and his US citizen wife. I submitted all the documents and paid the fees.

After a while of checking my emails, I was told that my data was no longer with the National Visa Center, but was sent back to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

My stepmother now wants to restart the entire process, but my question is, can the case be reopened using the same case number instead of starting from scratch? My children are now 19 and 15 years old.

Please advise. Thank you.

– J.F.

Dear JF,

Only one person can file (petition) for a relative for permanent residency, so it was either your father or your stepmother who originally petitioned for you for a green card. As a green card holder, your father could file for you for permanent residency if you were unmarried – a green card holder cannot file for a married son/daughter. Maybe your stepmother was a joint sponsor on the Affidavit of Support, if your father’s income was not enough according to the USCIS guidelines to support himself, you, and your children.

You need to find out why the file was returned to USCIS and that will be determinative as to whether the file can be restarted or if a new petition will need to be filed on your behalf. You did not indicate where your father is – is he alive? If your father is no longer alive, that could be one of the reasons why your petition was returned to USCIS. If that is the case, then you would need a substitute sponsor and a humanitarian request to continue your father’s petition. A substitute sponsor must be a particular relative and a step-parent is not one of the relations that would qualify.

If you need to start from the beginning, your stepmother would be able to file a petition for you if the marriage between herself and your father took place before you were 18 years old. As for your children, they are derivative beneficiaries and might age out of the filing process once they reach 21 years old, and their viability would depend heavily on whether the original petition was able to be pursued or whether a new petition would need to be filed.

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