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Immigration Law Blog

Friday, October 26, 2018

Divorce after Immigration Proceedings

Studies reveal that nearly half of all marriages in the United States end in a divorce. With these staggering numbers, it may seem that divorce is a rather simple proceeding. When immigration is involved, however, a divorce may not only dissolve a marriage but it may also jeopardize one partner’s ability to remain in the country.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 237(a)(1)(G)(i): a person can be deported for marriage fraud if the person was married less than 2 years prior to obtaining Legal Permanent Residence(LPR) status, and the marriage was judicially annulled or terminated within 2 years of LPR entry. Under these guidelines, most marriages must span at least four years or the immigrant spouse may risk deportation once the divorce is finalized.

However, there is an exception to the rule which allows some divorced immigrants remain in the country, even after violating Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If the reason for divorce was spousal abuse, the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) may help an abused party remain in the United States despite the short marriage. The abused party can self-petition or hire an immigration attorney for assistance.

During the petition process, the spouse must prove that she was the subject of extreme cruelty or battery during the marriage. This can be done through reports from the police, judges and other court officials, and medical personnel. Evidence of abuse may also include restraining orders, proof that the injured party sought refuge at a battered spouse’s shelter, proof that the care of mental health professionals was required, photos of injuries, and even consulting with a family lawyer for possible assistance in obtaining restraining orders or protection from the abusive spouse can help to strengthen one’s petition.

In addition to presenting evidence of abuse, the spouse must demonstrate that she is of “good moral character.” To ensure all of the qualifications are met and sufficient evidence is presented, it’s important to contact a qualified immigration.


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