The Impact Divorce Can Have on Immigration Status
While recent controversy over federal immigration laws has left plenty of Florida residents feeling uneasy, family law issues can create problems as well. If you are an originally from another country and are going through a divorce, you likely have questions about how this could impact your status in the U.S. The following outlines general policies that often apply in these situations, as well as steps you can take to protect yourself.
Divorce and Immigration
According to the American Immigration Council, more than four million immigrants reside in Florida, making up 20 percent of the overall population. Roughly one out of every five residents hails originally from places such as Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, and Jamaica, while one out of every eight children has at least one immigrant parent.
Of the variety of reasons people from other areas come and remain in this country, marriage is often a common factor. While most marry for love, immigration officials are always on the alert for those unions that are made for the sake of obtaining citizenship; therefore, there are strict laws that go into effect in the event of a divorce.
Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, if you became a lawful, permanent resident of the U.S. after being married for a period of two years or more, a divorce is less likely to threaten your immigration status. However, if you obtained a green card by applying for a marriage based visa and have been married for a period of two years or less, there are steps you need to take to ensure you are eligible to remain in the United States.
Marriage-Based Visa Holders
U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that if you are an immigrant who was granted permanent residence status on a marriage that is less than two years old, your status is on a conditional basis, meaning that you must prove you did not enter it in order to achieve legal status. You may apply to have this conditional status removed if you are going through a divorce, but you must apply before the expiration date on your green card.
You may also need to apply jointly with your spouse, unless your divorce has already been finalized or if you are a victim of domestic abuse or other extreme hardship. One of the key factors is showing that your marriage was entered into in good faith. Evidence you should collect to use in your case includes:
- Birth certificates from children of your marriage;
- Bills, statements, and receipts showing shared income and assets;
- Photos together and gifts exchanged between you and your spouse over the years;
- Jointly held insurance and estate planning documents.
Reach Out to Us Today
If you are going through or considering a divorce where immigration status is likely to be an issue, call or contact attorney Vanessa L. Prieto online today. Our Fort Lauderdale legal team can advise you on the best course of action, while helping to ensure your rights are protected.