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Immigration Corner | Will my common-law relationship prevent me from getting a visa?

Published:Tuesday | October 4, 2022 | 12:06 AM
Dahlia Walker Huntington
Dahlia Walker Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My partner is a US citizen and we have a two-year-old daughter who recently obtained her US citizenship by Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Her grandmother is in the US and not in the best of health, and we would like my daughter to meet her in person. I was told that the US embassy wouldn’t grant me a visa if I let them know on the form that we are in a common-law relationship.

In our interview, questions were asked like: Where do I work? When my partner is in Jamaica, where does he stay? How long have we been together? and, How did we meet?

My partner operates his own business here in Jamaica, and he travels back and forth. I’m the manager of the business. Marriage is a big thing and honestly, is not something I’m mentally ready for. My whole family is in Jamaica. I just want a visiting visa.


Dear RP

I am happy that you wrote to ask your question. Central in my answer to you and all the readers is to always tell the truth, but especially in the immigration context. Do not ever give answers to the US Embassy or the US government that are not true but beneficial to your case. That is immigration fraud. So many, many times clients come to me after they have been coached by other people to give wrong answers to the US Embassy in their applications for visiting visas, only to have those untruths come back to haunt them when they are filing for permanent residency in America, or when they want to genuinely apply for a visitor’s visa. Do not do it – just don’t.

Being in a common-law relationship with your partner does not give you any direct permanent immigration benefits. It could be construed that if you have a US citizen child for a US citizen that you might have a greater intention to migrate than a person who does not. All applicants for a US visitor’s visa are considered to have an intention to migrate that they must overcome by showing significant ties to home before they can be granted a visitor’s visa.

Apply for the visa and tell the truth. You may or may not get the visa, but you will not have committed immigration fraud. You may not want to live in America now, but with a US citizen child and partner – you cannot rule out that possibility. If you commit immigration fraud in your application for a visitor’s visa, it will become a permanent bar to obtaining any type of visa unless you can be granted a waiver. A waiver is a difficult discretionary benefit to obtain, and you should never put yourself in that position.

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 .