Do you remember when you first came to the United States? You just married your spouse and the two of you had dreams of what your life together would look like in the future. You might even have dreamt of collaborating on a business as part of your "American dream." Together, nothing could stop you; that is until, years later, you found yourselves facing off in a Texas divorce court.
Not only do you now face many family (and perhaps business) challenges, you're also worried about what might become of your legal status after the divorce.
Facts on immigration and divorce
Before you married, your then soon-to-be spouse likely signed certain agreements (as your sponsor) promising to do certain things or accept certain responsibilities in exchange for the federal government allowing you to enter the country and become a legal resident on a conditional basis. One of the things a sponsor typically agrees to do involves financially supporting the person he or she intends to marry. Several other facts regarding immigrant marriage and divorce include the following:
- The U.S. citizen spouse usually remains financially responsible for the immigrant spouse for as many as 10 years following a divorce.
- An immigrant's residency status exists on a two-year conditional basis, meaning the marriage must last two years before immigration officials conduct a review. If the review board deems the relationship genuine, the immigrant spouse receives a permanent green card (and permanent residency status) -- if he or she filed for removal of temporary residency on time.
- If a divorce occurs before the two-year period expires, the immigrant spouse risks deportation.
- In many instances, an immigrant spouse risks removal even if the divorce occurred after two years. (For instance, you spouse writes a letter to the government requesting your deportation for whatever reason.)
There are ways to avoid removal, one of which involves proving the legitimacy of the marriage to the federal government. For instance, children born of the marriage attest to its legitimacy. Divorce happens. You obviously didn't expect it when you left your country of origin and entered into marriage with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The question then becomes whether you should have to leave the United States simply because your marriage ended.
Regardless of what factors led to your current situation, it's understandable if you're feeling worried or afraid, especially since your resident status remains in jeopardy. Speaking with an attorney experienced in immigration matters can provide the support and encouragement you need at this time.