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Ask the Consul – January 2020
January 6, 2020

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Question: My husband recently became a Legal Permanent Resident in the United States.  How can I and our children legally move to the United States to join him? 

Answer: Thank you for your question. In order to permanently move to the United States, you will need an immigrant visa (IV). U.S. Immigration Law places primary emphasis on family reunification. A U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) – known as the “petitioner” – may file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting their family member – known as the “beneficiary” – be allowed to immigrate to reunite with them. U.S. citizens can file immigrant petitions for their spouse, children, parents, and siblings. LPRs can file immigrant petitions for their spouse and minor children. Each family-based petition category has different requirements and processing wait times. More details on each category can be found on the USCIS website.

In all cases, the petitioner pays fees and provides documents demonstrating a relationship to the beneficiary. If the relationship meets the requirements, USCIS will give the petition initial approval and send it to the Embassy. During the visa interview, the consular officer must see the originals of all documents submitted with the petition and verify them. If there are newer versions of any document, it is the newest version that the officer needs.

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

To avoid delays in processing, ensure you have your original documents prior to the interview. 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 a legal name change occurred. Proof may include deed polls, name change affidavits, marriage certificates and divorce decrees. If your petitioner is a sibling, the consular officer will need to see your sibling’s original polymer birth certificate as well. If the relationship is based on a second or later marriage, then documents showing the legal termination of all prior marriages are needed, typically final divorce decrees or death certificates, whichever is applicable.

Once all processing is complete, the immigrant visa will be placed in your passport and your documents will be returned to you. Beneficiaries in older immigrant visa cases may receive a sealed envelope to present when they enter the United States, however, newer cases are fully electronic and you will only receive your passport with the immigrant visa attached.

Additional information on the process is available at www.uscis.gov. For case specific inquiries, please send an email to PTSIV@state.gov.