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Situations that Adversely Impact a Foreign National’s Immigration Status

Posted by on Aug 22, 2015 in Family Issues | 0 comments

Every year the Center for Immigration Studies estimates about 400,000 US citizens marrying individuals with foreign nationalities. With marriage being one of the fastest ways to obtain a US green card, many resort to it, even fraudulently, to be able to live and work on a permanent basis in the United States.

There are actually three ways through which a foreign national may obtain a U.S. permanent resident status fast: marry a U.S. citizen, a beneficiary of an immigrant petition, or a person who has been lawfully granted US permanent residency. The chance of obtaining a green card, however, can be adversely affected if the marriage soon ends in divorce or annulment.

There three possible situations wherein divorce can adversely impact a foreign national’s immigration status:

1. When divorce occurs before the conferment of a permanent residence status.

While marriage to a US citizen or to a lawful US permanent resident may help an alien obtain permanent resident status, the actual granting of such status may be denied if the termination of marriage through divorce or annulment happens before the permanent resident status is granted to the alien spouse. In other words, as divorce or annulment ends the legal marriage between the alien spouse and his or her (sponsoring) spouse, so too is the alien spouse’s chance of being granted a green card.

2. When divorce occurs after the granting of a conditional green card; and,

If divorce or annulment happens within two years after the alien spouse has been granted a conditional green card, the chance of obtaining a permanent resident status may be canceled. This is because, for the permanent resident status to be granted to the alien spouse, application to such must be jointly filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by both spouses within the 90-day period that immediately precedes the second anniversary of the alien spouse’s receipt of the conditional permanent residence.

Termination of the marriage will make the joint application impossible. This will necessitate the alien spouse to file, instead, a waiver for the required joint application, otherwise, he or she may be put in deportation proceedings (a copy of the divorce decree, documentation, like a joint bank account, joint real estate holdings, joint credit cards, etc., and affidavits from both spouses’ mutual friends who would confirm that the marriage was sincerely entered into, should be filed with the waiver. These documents will prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith).

Only after USCIS has ascertained that the marriage was not fraudulent or entered into simply for the purpose of helping the foreign national obtain a green card will it approve the waiver and change the alien spouse’s status from conditional resident status to permanent resident status.

3. When divorce occurs after an unconditional green card has been obtained

For alien spouses who have been issued unconditional green cards (which are valid for 10 years, unlike conditional green cards which lasts only for two years), the only effect of divorce on their immigration status is the length of time they must be in permanent resident status before becoming eligible to apply for US citizenship.

The United States have been drafting more laws over the past years which will eventually allow foreign nationals to obtain their green card faster than other applicants. Among these laws is the law on marriage. Many times though, marriage between a foreign national and an American citizen never really work out since the foundation of such marriage is not strong; thus, many end in divorce, with the foreign national saying goodbye to his or her dream of obtaining a green card.

The laws and the procedures of divorce are complicated, so much more are the laws on immigration. According to the website of Marshall & Taylor PLLC, despite the seeming simplicity of an absolute divorce process, there are related legal issues which can be very burdensome to any of the spouses involved. This is what renders the assistance of a seasoned divorce lawyer necessary in a divorce proceeding, especially in one of the spouses is a foreign national who has not obtained US citizenship yet and only has a conditional resident status.

Austin immigration lawyers would probably be informed of how the procedures involved in attaining permanent resident status can be negatively impacted by divorce. Under this situation, the alien spouse needs to file certain documents (within a specified time), otherwise, he or she may lose the chance of having the conditions of his or her residence status removed, as well as the privilege of staying longer on US soil.

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