Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Immigration Corner | Can I be added to my husband’s petition?

Published:Tuesday | February 21, 2023 | 12:34 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My husband is being filed for by his son, who is a citizen of the United States of America. The case is now at the US Embassy in Kingston. Can my 18-year-old son and I be added to the case?


Dear Concerned,

If the marriage that created the step-parent relationship between you and your husband’s son took place before your stepson was 18 years old, a step-parent relationship for immigration purposes was established. However, if your stepson was over 18 years old when you married his father, there would be no step-parent relationship for immigration purposes.

If there is in fact an immigration-based step-parent relationship, your stepson would have needed to file a separate petition for you (his stepmother) and a separate petition for his 18-year-old stepbrother. You would be an immediate relative and be processed the same as your husband. However, the 18-year-old stepbrother (or biological brother) would be in the fourth preference category for an immigrant visa, and that is the category that takes the longest for a visa to become available. Currently, it is taking 14 years.

At this stage, it would be practical to have your husband file for two petitions once he becomes a green card holder – one for you and one for your 18-year-old son. You didn’t indicate if the 18-year-old is your husband’s biological or stepson. The same principle applies – if your 18-year-old is your husband’s stepson, the marriage must have taken place before your son was 18 in order for your husband to file an immigrant petition for the 18-year-old.

Normally, a green card-holder parent can file one petition for a spouse and minor child. However, your stepson might ‘age out’, i.e., turn 21 years old before a visa is available for him because of backlogs, and so it is just safer to file two petitions at this time. Your husband can file immediately upon entering the United States – whether he is employed or not.

`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.