How Does My Divorce Affect My Immigration Status?
Any legal marriage can end in divorce, including one that started in good faith between a United States citizen and a citizen of a foreign country. However, immigrants may be worried about what will happen to them if they divorce. Individuals who hold green cards and are under conditional residence status may find it difficult to proceed with permanent residency or naturalization if they end their marriage. Those who have only filed a visa petition typically find themselves mired in deportation proceedings. Divorce can be complicated between a U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen. Therefore, it is wise to talk with an immigration attorney to understand your rights.
Why Immigration-Related Divorce Is Challenging
Why is the law so firm when it comes to immigration and divorce? Taken objectively, the courts want to protect the country from people who try to become citizens through fraudulent marriages. That is, a U.S. citizen will agree to marry a non-U.S. citizen so the non-U.S. citizen becomes naturalized and potentially sponsors relatives to bring into the country.
Knowing this, anyone worried about immigration status during a divorce should understand that they will need to prove that their marriage was real. For instance, they may submit documentation that indicates they fully intended for the union to last for a lifetime, not end in separation and divorce. Usually, joint accounts, buying large items together, and naming each other as beneficiaries can be indicators of positive intentions. Although the court will have questions, it is shown that there was a thread of commitment running through the marriage from the start.
Will a Divorcing Immigrant Automatically Be Deported?
While deportation is a real concern for many divorcing immigrants, it is not definitive. If the immigrant was approved for conditional residence or permanent residence, they have a much stronger case than if the marriage is new and they only filed a visa petition. Individuals who earned permanent residence and who are not deported after a divorce may face new hurdles when they try to become U.S. citizens. At that point, the courts will want to make sure that the past marriage was in good faith, and not one intended to lead to citizenship for the wrong reasons.
Philadelphia Immigration Attorneys at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Help Immigrants Facing Divorce
If you are considering a divorce and you are not yet a naturalized U.S. citizen, the Philadelphia immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. can help. Call us today at 215-496-0690 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.