What’s the Process for Divorcing a Non-Citizen Spouse?

What’s the Process for Divorcing a Non-Citizen Spouse?


In today’s society, it’s not uncommon for a U.S. citizen to marry a foreign-born spouse. Research shows that almost 10% of married households have one foreign-born spouse. If you’re a U.S. citizen married to a non-citizen, you might be concerned about whether the divorce process will be as complicated as getting your loved one to the U.S. in the first place. When foreign-born people marry a U.S. citizen, they enjoy several benefits concerning lawful residency. However, immigration officials always look for individuals who match citizens solely to gain a green card. Therefore, they fear that if they end their marriage, they will face consequences despite their excellent faith going into the marriage. When this is the case, foreign-born spouses worry about deportation and other legal consequences. Please continue reading to learn how divorce can affect your immigration status and how a competent Nassau County Divorce Attorney can help you today.  

How will a divorce impact a foreign-born spouse?

Ultimately, the immigration consequences a foreign-born spouse will face during a divorce depend on the length of the marriage. After marrying a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen can obtain a two-year provisional green card. After two years, they can petition for lawful permanent residence status, leading to eventual citizenship. It’s imperative to note that a non-citizen permanent resident married to the U.S. can apply for citizenship after holding lawful permanent residence for three consecutive years.

Unfortunately, a foreign-born spouse could lose residency if the marriage ends within two years. If they already have obtained permanent residency when the marriage ends, divorce will not affect their immigration status. Nevertheless, the non-citizen can petition for a waiver to remain in the country if they meet specific criteria. They must demonstrate that the marriage was entered in good faith and ended for reasons other than the fault of the non-citizen, the non-citizen spouse would face extreme hardship if they were deported to their country of origin, or the non-citizen was subjected to domestic violence.

Will their immigration status affect child custody?

If you’re a foreign-born spouse facing a divorce, it’s imperative to understand that you cannot legally take a child to live in a foreign country. If one parent takes them outside their home country, nations worldwide have agreed that children should be returned to their country of origin. Ultimately, different countries will cooperate to restore a custody arrangement if a foreign-born spouse violates the terms of their divorce. Nevertheless, like any other child custody decision, the court’s primary concern is the child’s best interests. The court will consider numerous factors to determine an appropriate custody arrangement, including the parents’ citizenship status.

If you and your spouse are heading for divorce, please don’t hesitate to enlist the help of an experienced attorney from The Pollack Law Firm, P.C., who can help you take the necessary steps to understand your rights and obligations. Allow our firm to guide you toward the most favorable outcome possible for your circumstances.

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