Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Immigration Corner | Will my son be able to travel again?

Published:Tuesday | September 19, 2023 | 12:06 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

Last summer my son went to the USA on his visitor’s visa to visit his dad, who is a US citizen. His dad did not send him back to Jamaica as agreed, but instead, enrolled him in school. My son attended school in the USA from August 2022 to May 2023, when he got summer holidays. His dad sent him back to Jamaica and has no intention of filing for him.

My son’s visa will expire in 2025. Will he be able to travel back to the US on his visa. Please let me know.


Dear KK,

This is a sad situation for you and your son. Unfortunately, this happens quite often, where children are sent to America to visit a parent or taken to America on a trip by one parent, who then refuses to return the child to the custodial parent in Jamaica. This is tantamount to international kidnapping and can have serious consequences for the person in America. This also has serious negative emotional impact on the children.

Generally speaking, a child under 18 years of age is not considered able to make decisions for themselves. As a result, any period of unlawful presence is not attributable to them, because they are not able to decide where they live. In your son’s case, he was probably given six months to remain in the US and if he stayed longer than that, without receiving an extension, he was unlawfully present in America. If he was under 18 when he left the country, that period of unlawful presence will not be held against him if he were to be petitioned for permanent residence.

However, upon his return on his non-immigrant visa or at the time of renewal of that visa, it would be within the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport or a consular officer (CO) at the US Embassy, to determine that he will not be kept in America by an adult over his prescribed period of stay. The CBP or CO could decide to deny him entry or deny the renewal of his 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 diversity and inclusion Consultant, mediator, and former special magistrate and hearing officer in Broward County, Florida.