Immigration, Naturalization, and Divorce

July 22nd, 2013 at 2:16 pm

When considering divorce, some Americans have more to think about than others. Among these are immigrants or naturalized citizens who came to America because their spouse was a U.S. citizen.

Not only does divorce or annulment change the validity of this type of visa, it can also affect the citizen status of children, if the child is 18 years old or older. According to the New York Daily News,  “once an immigrant derives U.S. citizenship from a U.S. citizen parent, his citizenship is not impacted by his parents’ actions, or even his own marriage,” providing that he was unmarried at the time that he immigrated to the U.S. Yet determining whether or not a child obtained citizenship through his parents can be confusing, especially considering that there are a different set of rules for children who were 18 and over as of February 2001. Yet if the child is a permanent resident and younger than 18 years old, “and then the parent or parents naturalize, the child gets automatic citizenship,” no matter whether his parents divorce or not.

The rules regarding spouses are a bit more complicated and strict than those involving the children of divorcing parents. According to DivorceNet.com, “if you sponsor your spouse’s immigration application and the marriage is ending, you should withdraw your sponsorship promptly because through sponsorship you have assumed the responsibilities of supporting your spouse and his or her dependents.” In some cases, the immigrant spouse will be subject to removal proceedings when the divorce is completed—his or her immigrant status will be changed upon dissolution of the marriage.

According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, an annulment has a greater effect on an immigrant-citizen union than a divorce—“an annulment is usually retroactive, meaning that the marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning.” In either case, if the immigrant remarries, even immediately following the annulment or divorce, it may not be enough to secure the possibility of naturalization or citizenship.

If you or someone you know has questions concerning divorce proceedings and immigration, or any other family law matter, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area family law attorney today.

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