Immigration and naturalization are at the forefront of the news. The complex legal proceedings that result in the issuance of legal permanent residence (also know as a “Green Card”) may have serious implications on your ability to divorce an immigrant spouse.
U.S. law allows a person to bring their spouse to live legally in the U.S. as a permanent resident. When a person applies for a spousal Green Card, the spouse is granted conditional residence for two years. The application process includes both spouses completing detailed affidavits. The U.S. citizen or legal resident spouse must promise to support their immigrant spouse to at least 125% above the federal poverty guidelines. Once the Green Card has been granted, these affidavits cannot be withdrawn.
During the two-year conditional period, the immigrant’s residency status may be revoked if either spouse fails to meet the legal requirements. If a person files for divorce before the two years are up, the immigrant spouse could be deported. The USCIS suspects that many marriages between citizens and immigrants are fraudulent. As a result, if either party files for divorce during the two years, the parties are legally obligated to notice USCIS.
Removal of the Two-Year Condition
The immigrant spouse must petition for removal of the two-year conditional residency restriction within 90 days of the two-year anniversary when such status was received. If a person fails to meet this deadline, the consequences could include removal and deportation. Once the two-year restriction is lifted, the immigrant spouse is a legal permanent residence without restrictions tied to their spouse.
Once the restrictions have been lifted, there is less risk of deportation in the event of a divorce. The parties are not required to notice USCIS after the two-year period is officially removed.
If you have been married less than 2 years when your spouse is granted permanent resident status, your spouse will receive permanent resident status on a conditional basis. As noted above, one of the conditions is the other spouse agreeing to be financially responsible for the immigrant spouse. In the event of a divorce, the immigrant spouse can use the affidavits filed as part of the Green Card application to ask for alimony.
Courts construe financial obligations seriously. The U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse can only avoid their obligation if the immigrant spouse dies or is removed from the country if the immigrant spouse voluntarily leaves the country, or the immigrant spouse becomes an American citizen or has another change in immigration status.
Contact an Experienced Oklahoma Divorce Lawyer Immediately
If you or your spouse are divorcing but one of you is an immigrant, you must consider the potential side effects of the divorce, which could include removal and deportation. Our team includes highly experienced divorce lawyers who can explain all the potential consequences. Contact our office or call 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW) to can speak with one of our divorce lawyers. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library, or enter live chat.