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Visa-revocation fears

Published:Tuesday | March 30, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Good Morning Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I have a big concern. I recently read a Jamaican newspaper online and found out that US visas are being revoked.

Now, I am a permanent resident in America and am currently in school. I really wanted to visit my mom for a week but am very scared they may take my visa away, thus preventing me from completing my education.

I was also planning to take three of my friends so they could see where I grew up. We have all purchased our tickets.

Do you think they will revoke my permanent visa even though I am a student and have been living here for almost five years? Or, is it just for business people travelling to America?

Please, I beg for your advice as I have already purchased my plane ticket and would not want my visa to be taken away from me when I go to Jamaica. This would ruin the life that I have been building so far.

I hope to hear from you soon and thank you.


Dear JH:

You must have misunderstood what you read online. There was the revocation of a non-immigrant visa of a high-profile businessman in Jamaica recently. However, this does not mean the United States (US) government is revoking everybody's visas.

There has been a lot of rumour about the visa situation as it pertains to Jamaica, and only the US Embassy can clarify the situation.

Nevertheless, let me explain how the visa system operates and try to put your mind at ease.

Visa waiver

Persons who hold non-immigrant visas do so at the pleasure of the US government. Non-immigrant visas can be revoked at anytime, for any reason or, for no reason at all. Likewise, when you apply for a non-immigrant visa for the first time, or for the renewal, you can be denied for any reason or, for no reason. There is no appeal from a decision of a consular officer to deny you a non-immigrant visa, but there is a provision for a person to file for a non-immigrant visa waiver, under certain conditions.

There is no right to a non-immigrant visa - it is a privilege that can be given or denied at the discretion of the US consular officer.

If you are a permanent resident of the US (Green Card holder), you are entitled to live and work in the US, and file and pay your taxes. If you violate the law in the US or anywhere in the world - the US government can remove you from their country, i.e. deport you, or take away your Green Card.

Additionally, when a non-immigrant visa holder or a Green Card holder arrives at the US border, they are asking for permission to enter the country. This means both visitors and Green Card holders are never guaranteed entry when they come to the US airport. There are various reasons why a customs and border protection officer may find you inadmissible into the US. From as simple a reason as not having enough money to show you can support yourself during your visit, or a Green Card holder who has been outside of the country for too long.

A Green Card holder can also be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings if they have a criminal past, leave the US and try to re-enter.

If you have been living in the US for almost five years, been going to school, and have never been arrested, you should not have a problem travelling to Jamaica and returning to the US. If you are eligible for citizenship, you should apply as soon as possible. Once you are a citizen, you can never be denied re-entry into the US and you will be able to file for a Green Card for your mother.

Unless you have some other issue you have not disclosed in your query, you should go to Jamaica with your friends and have a wonderful time at home.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises in Florida in the areas of immigration, family, corporate and personal injury law. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. or