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He’s told he’s not his daughter’s biological father, and can’t sponsor her for an immigrant visa

Posted on November 8, 2011
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Immigrant VisaLady Liberty stands tall in New York Harbor

Q. A U.S. consular officer in Ecuador says my daughter is not really mine. What are my options? I am a U.S. citizen. I petitioned for my children to come here. Because of something the doctor found in their pre-interview blood tests, the consul thinks that I may not be the natural father of my daughter and wants us to do a DNA test. This is news to me, as I believed her to be my biological daughter. I was married to their mother and had several children within our marriage. I am listed as her father on her birth certificate and all other legal documentation. Can the consul deny her a visa? I am devastated to learn that she might not be my natural child. We may not be related biologically, but she is still my daughter and I would like to do whatever I can to bring her here.

William M., Queens

A. If the DNA test proves that you are not your daughter’s biological father, you cannot sponsor her for an immigrant visa. DNA tests are 99.5% accurate. Without a positive DNA test, the U.S. consul won’t give your daughter a visa based on your petition. For more information on immigration DNA testing rules, go to

If the child’s biological mother is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, of course the mother can petition to bring the child here. The only other possibility is if the child is not yet 16 years old. Then, you might be able to bring her here as an “orphan.”

Q. I have had a permanent resident card for many years. Must I get a new one? Someone told me that since it is a “permanent” card, I need only renew if I travel abroad.

Name Withheld, Manhattan

A. Whether you must renew your card depends on how long you have had it. Cards with no expiration date, issued in 1979 or after, with the notation “I-551,” are still valid. Cards without that notation expired on March 20, 1996. Cards issued now expire after ten years.

You do not lose permanent residence if your card expires. The law requires all permanent residents to have a valid, unexpired card. Nevertheless, immigration doesn’t usually punish permanent residents because they do not have a valid, unexpired card. However, only an unexpired card is valid to prove employment authorization. Also, if you travel abroad with an expired card, and sometimes with a card with an old photo, you might experience delays and inconvenience when you return. Perhaps what that person meant is that you only need it for travel.

Q. A student I know got asylum through her mother, but then traveled to her home country. Will her travel home keep her from getting U.S. citizenship? This woman got asylum because she was here with her mother when the mother sought refuge from Colombia. When she traveled to Canada, she used her refugee travel document for identification. At 19, she had renewed her Colombian passport and used it to visit Colombia three times. Now she wants to apply for U.S. citizenship, but she is concerned that because she used a Colombian passport to return home, immigration will question whether she truly deserved asylum.

Elizabeth Liberty, New York

A. Given that the woman you write about was not the principal asylum applicant, I doubt a naturalization examiner will give her a hard time about her travel. From what you write, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted her asylum as a derivative of her mother. It was her mother who claimed a fear of returning home. Still, it’s possible that a naturalization examiner will give you a hard time about her travel home. However, that travel should not keep her from getting U.S. citizenship. Even if it were her mother who traveled, that alone is not reason enough to deny the mother U.S. citizenship.

Government officers sometimes question asylees and former asylees who travel home about whether their original claim for asylum was genuine. Some naturalization examiners have gone so far as deny citizenship to former asylees who traveled home. Their theory seems to be that having returned home means that their asylum claim must have been fraudulent if they could return to their country. The USCIS position is unfairly restrictive and just plain wrong. Just because an asylee or former asylee travels home, even several times, doesn’t mean that he or she can live there permanently without facing persecution. Referring to asylees traveling home, the U.S. Custom and Board Patrol’s own manual states that “[S]imply traveling to his or her home country does not necessarily mean that the alien has re-availed him or herself of the protection of that country.” If the young woman is truly fearful, she should consult an immigration law expert for advice. My bet is that when she applies to naturalize, her trips to Colombia won’t be a problem.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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