When it’s hitch time, you don’t think about your better half’s nationality or residence status, but at the time of divorce, these things may become important. You will contact a divorce attorney asking what would happen if you get a divorce in the middle of your residency application? Here is what you must know about it.
Divorce & Immigration
This is something that can be complex, depending on the way by which you arrived in the US in the first place. Usually, immigrants can come to the US, through multiple ways.
- By applying for a student visa for higher studies, like Masters, PhD and diplomas.
- By investing and starting a business in the US.
- By sponsorship of a permanent US resident, whether it be your parents, siblings, spouse, or someone else in the family.
These are the primary ways by which an immigrant can be granted entry into any country, and even the US, but there can be changes in circumstances that would allow you to get married there. You might find someone that you want to spend your life with, and even though they’re a US national, you can still get married to them, if they choose to sponsor you.
After getting married for a certain period, you can be allowed to apply for a conditional residency in the US, but it’s necessary to stay married until you’re eligible for the application of a green card.
This is where things can get messy. If your marriage is on the rocks and it’s been hard living together, whether it’s because of differences or any other serious issue, there can be chances that you need to file for a divorce as soon as possible. This can go both ways. Either you can lose your residency rights in the US and will have to go back to your home country or it can’t affect you at all.
There are different scenarios and cases, where things need to be evaluated, so first, you need to establish your status with your spouse at that moment as well as the status of your immigration application. Only then, will you be able to swim through the process of divorce and figure out what to do from there?
Understanding The Difference
Divorce and separation are two completely different things and the outcomes of each of them, as far as immigration is concerned, can be worlds apart as well. First, you need to establish whether you and your spouse are just taking a break or are things not working out anymore.
A divorce is a legal procedure that officially nullify your marriage. It’s done in a court, in front of a judge and it’s essentially the last resort for couples who have tried everything else but can’t seem to overlook the differences between them. Divorces can be due to many reasons. There are causes of infidelity and abuse, and if there’s no major issue like this, then there are differences that make the couple bicker with one another until they feel like they are not compatible anymore and the best way to hold onto their sanity is to go their separate ways. The point is that divorces are the last stop and after that, there is no point or reason to get back together. If you don’t want the marriage to stand anymore then divorce is the only way to put an official end to things.
As far as separation is concerned, it’s also because of rifts in the marriage, but it’s not something as permanent as a divorce. There can be times when couples might need space from each other to figure things out and rather than opting for the marriage to end, they tend to work on their differences and habits separately, and this happens when one partner moves out of the house for a little bit. This is a lot similar to marriage counseling and it’s not the end of a marriage, per se. A lot of the time, couples can find their way back to each other and then live an even better life than before. Other times, if things aren’t working out, then divorce follows up.
The reason for explaining this is that divorce and separation can have different outcomes for an immigrant. If you are getting a divorce or your spouse started a divorce process and family attorneys Fairfax VA are involved, then it might or might not affect your immigration status. However, if you’re just taking some time out, and are separated from your spouse, but the marriage is still official, then it won’t affect your immigration process or status. It’s as simple as that.
The Status Of Your Arrival In The US
Let’s say that you are getting a divorce from a US national, so what does that mean for your immigration status? Well, three scenarios can play out.
Green Card Applicant
If you’ve been married for a long time have been eligible for a green card and are in the process of getting things finalized, then a divorce will not affect your immigration status. Usually, an immigrant is eligible to apply for a green card after 19-20 years of marriage to a US national.
Spouse Dependent Visa
If you’re already facing problems in your marriage and it hasn’t even been 2 years, then it means that you are probably still on a spouse-dependent visa, and that’s the same way by which you entered the country in the first place.
If that’s the case then your divorce can nullify the visa and you will be considered a foreigner and will have to be deported as soon as the proceedings are completed and the divorce is finalized.
Usually, after 2 years of marriage, you can be eligible to apply for a conditional or temporary green card and that’s the baseline for the actual green card. This means that you’re using your spouse’s identity and residence status to stay in America.
If you get divorced within this time frame, then you can lose your immigration status and you will need to go back to your home country because you’re not a permanent resident. You’re just getting by on your spouse’s nationality or citizenship, and after divorce, that standing means nothing.
Can You Become A US Citizen After A Divorce?
You can only become a US citizen, if you’re eligible for a green card or have already applied for it, before the divorce. If your application is in the pipeline then it won’t affect your residency, but you need to understand the fact that it might take more time for you to become a US national after divorce because the law is different for an applying immigrant wanting to become a US national.
If you fit the eligibility criteria, then citizenship shouldn’t be an issue and you will secure a green card in the allocated time.
These things can be a bit complicated to deal with, especially if you’re living in the US and figuring things out, as you go, but they’re good to know at the time of your divorce. And you must consult a divorce lawyer Fairfax VA who have relevant experience.