Divorce and Visa Status

Authored by , LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

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Most Common Immigration Law Issues:

Does Divorce Affect My Pending Visa?

Yes. If someone has applied for permanent residency based on marriage to an American citizen, but divorce before that visa is granted, they will no longer be eligible for a green card in most cases. If they have divorced after filing the petition, that person must contact the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) and inform them.

What If I Am a Victim of Spousal Abuse?

If the person who is applying for a permanent resident status is a noncitizen and is married to an American citizen but must leave due to domestic abuse, they will still be eligible for a visa. However, there are additional steps. Most importantly, the nonresident spouse will need to file a special self-petition instead of joint petition.

Moreover, the nonresident spouse will need to meet a new set of requirements to qualify on their own. The requirements are:

  1. A qualifying spousal relationship
  2. Applicant suffered battery or extreme cruelty
  3. The applicant entered into the marriage in good faith and not solely for immigration purposes
  4. The applicant resided with their spouse
  5. The applicant is of good moral character

Children and parents may also qualify, but will need to meet separate requirements.

Am I Eligible for a Waiver?

If a nonresident obtained conditional permanent residence through marriage but is now unable to file for an adjustment of status to permanent residency because they are now divorced, they may be eligible for a waiver of the joint petition requirement. To be eligible, the nonresident spouse must have married in good faith and not to obtain a certain immigration status, and demonstrate deportation will cause extreme hardship. Those who have been victims of domestic violence may also request a waiver.

Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?

Immigration is extremely complicated on its own accord, and only becomes more complicated when divorce becomes a factor. If you or a relative have recently filed for divorce or are considering filing for divorce, and your permanent residence visa is still pending, it would be wise to seek the advice of an experienced immigration lawyer immediately.

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Last Modified: 05-28-2014 04:46 PM PDT

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