It is true that marriage may open doors to certain immigration benefits, but divorce may just as easily close those doors. The immigration attorneys at Genesis Law Firm have experience assisting individuals with issues involving divorce and immigration.
For immigration purposes, divorce is defined as the legal termination of a marriage based on the laws of the state or country where the divorce occurred. In most cases, if the state law recognizes a divorce, the marriage has been terminated for purposes of immigration law. There are a number of situations in which the termination of a marriage may have implications on immigration.
For example, when an immigrant marries a U.S. citizen and obtains a two-year conditional green card, divorce can, in some situations, eliminate the ability of the immigrant to remove the conditions of the green card in order to obtain the ten-year green card. Only in certain very limited circumstances can an immigrant prevail in removing conditions after a divorce.
If a divorce between a U.S. Citizen and a Lawful Permanent Resident occurs after the issuance of a 10-year green card, the Lawful Permanent Resident does not risk losing that immigrant status. However, the Lawful Permanent Resident does lose the opportunity to base his or her application for Naturalization on the marriage to the U.S. citizen, which normally takes only three years to obtain. Instead, the Lawful Permanent Resident must wait at least five years to apply for Naturalization.
Further, some nonimmigrant classifications are strictly dependent on marriage. Spouses of H-1B workers, F-1 students, and J-1 exchange visitors are classified as “derivatives” of the visa holder, and may hold the corresponding status of H-4, F-2, or J-2, respectively. If, however, the marriage is terminated, the former spouse’s derivative nonimmigrant status likewise is terminated and the alien immediately becomes out of status. The alien would then be required to either (1) leave the country, or (2) obtain a different immigration status. If the alien does neither, unlawful presence will accrue and the alien may become subject to either a 3-year or 10-year bar from returning to the United States.
Genesis Law Firm can assist with all types of immigration situations that may arise in the context of divorce. Contact us to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney in the Everett and Seattle area who can help you sort through the immigration issues you may be facing as a result of your divorce. Genesis Law Firm offers high-level legal counsel at more affordable rates, and free Mandarin Chinese interpretation is available upon request.