Family Law, Criminal Defense & Immigration Attorneys

Divorce for Immigrants: What You Should Know

If you are a U.S. citizen or are married to one, how does divorce affect you or your spouse’s immigration status? Keep reading to find out.

Family Based Immigration

Family based immigration is a classification of visas that includes spouses, family members, and relatives. For example, a person may apply for family based immigration if they are married to a U.S. citizen or relatives of a citizen. While the visa program is flourishing, it does have issues. Delays and denials plague the system and this visa category sometimes involves multiple parties.

It’s important to recognize that visas serve different purposes and some might not apply to certain situations. In general, there are two primary distinctions among visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas offer more permanent opportunities and provide a more stable basis for citizenship. Applying for an immigrant visa is more thorough and for those seeking family-based immigration, both the spouse with citizenship and the migrant spouse must complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The spouse planning to immigrate must have all of their necessary documentation in order prior to entering the country.

Migrant Visas

Migrant visas offer temporary benefits. In most cases, those with migrant visas can stay in the United States as long as the abide by relatively strict restrictions. For family based immigration cases, a K-3 visa is necessary to initiate the process. The K-3 visa must be issued in the jurisdiction where the couple was married. After the visa is issued, the spouse can enter the country.

Migrant visa holders can still apply for citizenship later on, but there may be more steps to follow before they can become a citizen.

An important note: The government takes visa approval very seriously and will not grant entry or approval to those who get married fraudulently. Marriage interviews are used to prove the legitimacy of a marriage and whether the couple qualifies.

How Divorce Affects Immigration

The USCIS takes marriage visas very seriously, but it’s important to understand that the agency will not treat legitimate divorces unfairly. The agency investigates divorce claims if there are indicators that the marriage was fraudulent to begin with.

For example, if a couple files for divorce days after receiving green card approval, the USCIS may investigate the issue and proceed accordingly. In most cases, divorce does not necessarily impact immigration status. If a couple files for divorce before their joint filing is processed, the immigrant spouse may file a petition to apply separately. However, if filing for divorce during any part of the approval process can impact the case even if it does not cause the loss of status. In some cases, a separated spouse can stay but they may need to file further documentation with the USCIS.

Takeaway

There are many benefits and privileges that come with immigration. Not only can spouses be reunited, but they can also pursue citizenship. However, when a couple files for divorce, they could be vulnerable to removal proceedings.

If you are facing removal or are considering filing for divorce, contact Smith Law Offices, LLC for more information.

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