Aunt with custody wants nephew to migrate

All Woman

Dear Mrs Macaulay,

I have full custody of my nephew; however, he is not living with me here in the United States. How can I get him to come live with me? I am stuck and need some advice. Can I file for him? He really needs the help and I am trying my best. Can I use the custody paperwork to file for him to come live with me?

I note that you have an order for custody of your nephew and that you are in the United States while he is still in Jamaica. You have not really given any details about him, save that he needs your help and you wish to have him living with you in your home. You have not said when you obtained the order of custody of him, and whether it was a sole custody order, but in this regard, I shall assume that this is the case.

As his legal custodian, you have the right to make all decisions relating to his upbringing, development and welfare, which covers where he resides, with whom, what school he attends, etc. In other words, once the order was made granting you custody of your nephew, you became the decision maker of the patterns of his life and the provider of his necessities for living.

You have asked whether you can use your custody order to file for him to go and live with you. Of course you can, because a good number of my erstwhile clients have done so over the years. Some made their applications within a few days of obtaining the sealed and certified copies of their orders. I am surprised that you have not seemingly used it, since it was granted, to obtain a visa for him to visit you and during such visit(s) seek to make arrangements for his education, religious practice, the provision of health services, etcetera. These arrangements, even provisional ones, would assist you with the processing of his visa application.

When you speak of the custody paperwork, I hope you mean the custody order which bears the seal of the court, and if not, a certified true copy of it, which also bears the court's seal.

It is a good idea to always have certified copies of custody orders (in fact, any orders) because as custodian of your nephew, you would need to use such copies to prove that you have legal custody of him during the years of his minority. I suggest that you arrange for someone to go and obtain three certified copies of your order from the court office/registry for you. Send them a scanned or a good phone copy of it, so that they can show the clerk of court when they apply for it for you. You can and should, while these copies are being obtained, start your application to enable your nephew to go through the necessary immigration process to be permitted to go and live with you in your home, so that you can fully and properly take care of him.

Please make sure that you have spoken with the school you wish for him to attend and obtain something in writing from the school that they would enrol him there when he obtains his documents and arrives to reside with you. I trust that you do have room for him in your home and that you have checked on all aspects of his life with you which the immigration authorities may need to hear about from you.

I trust that I have set your mind at rest and that you will proceed with the necessary applications for your nephew to join you in your home where you can directly and properly take care of him. All the very best to you both.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.


The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.




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