Ask the Consul — February 2019

Question:

My mother filed for my entire family to migrate to the U.S., including my spouse, my 7-year-old son and my wife’s 15-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. My wife has changed her name twice with marriage, and her daughter has a different last name. Will this be a problem?

 Answer:

We are always happy to help de-mystify the Immigrant Visa process in order for you to be prepared for your interview.

A guiding principle of U.S. immigration law is family reunification. The law allows U.S. citizen and legal-permanent-residents (LPR) to file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) requesting their family members – officially referred to as beneficiaries – be allowed to immigrate in order to reunite with the petitioner. The petitioner must provide copies of documents showing their relationship to the beneficiaries. If the relationship looks like it meets the requirements, USCIS will give the petition initial approval and send it to the Embassy.  As the petition has copies (only) of the relationship documents attached to it, during the visa application, the consular officer must see the originals of those documents and confirm them.  If there are newer versions of the documents, it is the current (newest) version that we need to see.   Consular officers will also need to see original documents for anyone, like a newborn, who has been added to the case since the petition was approved.

Therefore, in order to avoid delays in the application processing, before you come for your interview, take sufficient time to ensure you have possession of your original documents such as passports, birth certificates and marriage certificates. If the name of the petitioner or a beneficiary has changed in any way from what appears in the principal document establishing the relationship (such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate), documentation is needed to prove legal name changes.  These documents can include – but are not limited to – deed polls, name change affidavits, marriage certificates and divorce decrees. Making sure you have the documentation to substantiate your or your family member’s name change helps the consular official verify the family relationships and process applications in a timely matter.  If the relationship is based on a second or later marriage, then documents showing the end of all earlier marriages are needed, typically these would be final divorce decrees or death certificates, whichever is applicable.

As of February 1, 2019, all Trinidad and Tobago vital records – including birth, marriage and death certificates – presented to the Embassy should be the new computer-generated Polymer Vital Statistics Certificates issued by the Registrar General’s Department of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

All immigrant visa applicants require:

-Polymer birth certificates for the principal applicant and each family member.

If applicable::

-Polymer marriage certificates for the principal applicant and spouse, and for all of their prior marriages.

-Divorce decrees for all prior marriages of the principal applicant and spouse, or the polymer death certificate for their deceased former spouses.

-Original deed polls and name change affidavits for any family member who has legally changed his or her name.

In preparation for your interview at the Embassy, you and each qualified family member immigrating with you must complete a visa application with current information. In addition to reviewing your original documents to verify if you are qualified, the consular officer will screen for any potential ineligibility based on legal, medical and financial requirements under U.S. immigration law.

Additional information on the process is available at www.uscis.gov. For case specific inquiries, send an email to PTSIV@state.gov, with the full names of the beneficiaries, petitioner, case number and a daytime phone number along with your question.