Divorce can be emotionally tumultuous for anyone, but immigrants oftentimes find the process even more anxiety-ridden than others. There’s good reason, too. Depending on the circumstances, a divorce can disrupt an immigrant’s path to legal permanent resident status, and it may even lead to removal from the country. We hope this post will shed some light on the topic so that immigrants can make more fully informed decisions about whether divorce is truly in their best interests.
There are many ways that immigration status and marriage are intertwined. For example, conditional resident status obtained through marriage is limited to a tow year period. To remove that conditional status and become a permanent resident, an individual must file a petition to remove the conditions of his or her residence. In order to qualify for the removal of those conditions, one must demonstrate that he or she is still married to a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident for at least two years, or that the marriage was entered into in good faith but ended in divorce.
So what does this mean for immigrants in Florida? It means that they need to consider the effects of divorce on their future in the country. They need to not only be prepared to address the usual divorce legal issues, such as property division and child custody, but they must also be prepared to demonstrate that they entered into their marriage in good faith if they want to protect their immigration status. Submitting documentation of jointly-held accounts and insurance policies may help show good faith.
Divorce is challenging enough without immigration concerns thrown into the mix. When immigration concerns are raised during the marriage dissolution process, an individual can quickly become overwhelmed. Fortunately, competent divorce attorneys stand ready to help deal with these complicated issues.