Fil­ing con­fu­sion

Jamaica Gleaner - - IMMIGRATION CORNER - Dahlia Walk­erHunt­ing­ton 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 Browa

Dear Mrs Walker-Hunt­ing­ton, My hus­band is a res­i­dent of the United States (US). We got mar­ried in 2015. He was told by some­one who works at the em­bassy that he can­not file for my 15year-old daugh­ter be­cause she is not his bi­o­log­i­cal child. Kindly let me know if this is so.

– Y.D.

Dear Y.D.,

Your email was not clear, but I am go­ing to an­swer, as­sum­ing that you are telling me that your hus­band is fil­ing for you and your daugh­ter.

Since you mar­ried your hus­band be­fore your daugh­ter was 18 years old, she is con­sid­ered a stepchild for im­mi­gra­tion pur­poses, and your hus­band can file for her to ob­tain US res­i­dency. When­ever there are non-bi­o­log­i­cal chil­dren in a re­la­tion­ship and the adults marry be­fore the chil­dren are 18, a step-par­ent re­la­tion­ship is es­tab­lished for im­mi­gra­tion pur­poses. This step-par­ent re­la­tion­ship al­lows the step-par­ent to file an im­mi­grant pe­ti­tion for the child, and it also al­lows the child (when el­i­gi­ble) to file an im­mi­grant pe­ti­tion for the par­ent.

As a green-card holder fil­ing for his spouse, your hus­band does not need to file a sep­a­rate pe­ti­tion for your daugh­ter. She is el­i­gi­ble to ‘ride’ on your pe­ti­tion in the be­gin­ning, and when the fil­ing gets to the National Visa Cen­ter, it will split into two files. How­ever, if your hus­band is in the process of be­com­ing a US cit­i­zen within the next year or so and plans to up­grade the fil­ing to that of the spouse of a US cit­i­zen, he should file two sep­a­rate pe­ti­tions for you and your daugh­ter. There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween a US cit­i­zen and a green­card holder fil­ing for their spouse and child or stepchild.

Cur­rently, the pe­ti­tion for the spouse and mi­nor child of a green- card holder is tak­ing about two years to re­ceive an in­ter­view; and the spouse and mi­nor child of a US cit­i­zen takes nine months to a year to in­ter­view at the US em­bassy in Kingston.

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