How will my past af­fect me?

Jamaica Gleaner - - IMMIGRATION CORNER - Dahlia Walker Hunt­ing­ton Dahlia A. Walker-Hunt­ing­ton is a Ja­maican-Amer­i­can at­tor­ney who prac­tises im­mi­gra­tion law in the United States; and fam­ily, crim­i­nal and per­sonal in­jury law in Florida. She is a mediator, ar­bi­tra­tor and spe­cial mag­is­trate in Brow

Dear Mrs Walker-Hunt­ing­ton, When I was younger, I was con­victed for a crime of theft and given a twoyear sus­pended sen­tence. That was over 10 years ago. Now I have met some­one and we are get­ting mar­ried. He lives in the United States (US) and wants to file for me to live with him. I am wor­ried that the fil­ing won’t go through be­cause of my crim­i­nal record. Is there any way that I can ob­tain a waiver so that when I get mar­ried I can join my hus­band?

– S

Dear S,

Hav­ing a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion does make you in­ad­mis­si­ble to the US. De­pend­ing on what the crime was that you com­mit­ted, there might be a waiver avail­able for the in­ad­mis­si­bil­ity.

In your sit­u­a­tion, it does not mat­ter how long ago the crime was com­mit­ted; you would still be in­ad­mis­si­ble to the US. The tim­ing of the crime can, how­ever, be sig­nif­i­cant in the dis­cus­sion for a waiver.

Your hus­band will have to file a reg­u­lar pe­ti­tion and you will re­ceive an ap­point­ment at the em­bassy for an im­mi­grant visa in­ter­view. You will have to prove the va­lid­ity of your mar­riage and your re­la­tion­ship with your hus­band. If your mar­riage is deemed to be valid and you would other­wise be el­i­gi­ble for a green card, you will be ad­vised that your pe­ti­tion is de­nied be­cause of your crim­i­nal record. If the crime is el­i­gi­ble for a waiver, the con­sular of­fi­cer will ad­vise you of same in writ­ing – usu­ally at the time of the in­ter­view. Your crime might be held as a Crime In­volv­ing Moral Turpi­tude, but you will need to wait un­til the in­ter­view to see how the par­tic­u­lar crime is clas­si­fied by the em­bassy.

To qual­ify for a waiver, your hus­band will have to prove that he is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­treme hard­ship that will only be elim­i­nated if you are al­lowed to join him in the States, and why he is un­able to live with you in Ja­maica. You will also need to show re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. Nor­mally, a US cit­i­zen hus­band fil­ing for a wife out­side the States can ex­pect to be joined by his spouse in nine months to a year. When a waiver is in­volved, this can ex­tend the process by up to an­other year or more.

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