Will You Need an Immigration Lawyer for Your Divorce?

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One of the great benefits of an international marriage is the path it allows to permanent residency or citizenship status in America. We can marry for love, and stay for the perks of a U.S. green card!

Unfortunately, American marriages also have a high likelihood of divorce — somewhere between 40 to 50% for first marriages, and 60% for second marriages.

If your U.S. residency is contingent on marriage to a spouse, but the two of you are considering a separation or divorce, it’s important to speak with both an immigration lawyer and a divorce lawyer — or a firm that’s well versed in both areas — to make sure that you understand your status and your options. The end of a marriage doesn’t necessarily have to mean the end of your life in America.

In most situations, foreigners are considered conditional residents during the first two years of a good-faith marriage to an American citizen. A separation or divorce within this time frame may seriously affect your residency status.

But, since most divorces occur after an average nine years of marriage, many people are already in the clear and can continue on their path towards permanent residency or citizenship, even without being married anymore.

It’s a common misconception that the termination of a marriage means that you will be deported or unable to obtain custody of your children as an immigrant. The fact is that there are 876,000 divorces every year, 16,800 every week, 2,400 every day — in other words, one every 36 seconds. Immigration lawyers and divorce attorneys handle cases like these all the time. Although every situation is unique, they’re unfortunately not very uncommon.

Options for your divorce or separation will vary by state. Some places offer legal separations of a formal or informal nature that can turn into permanent divorce. Others allow for “absolute divorce” or “limited divorce” choices.

Before you think you have to start packing your bags, speak with an immigration lawyer about your status and your options for a post-marriage life in America. Though your marriage may not have worked out, your residency or citizenship still can.

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