Immigration Considerations When Filing For Divorce
Thinking about divorce can be difficult for some people, even when there are no immigration issues to be considered. Spouses who are in difficult marriages can struggle with the decision to file for divorce if they have a pending application to immigrate to the United States. A spouse who has a pending application for permanent residency or for citizenship may have a fear that a divorce would negatively interfere with the application.
Generally, a person who is admitted into the United States as a spouse of a United States citizen or permanent resident may get permanent resident status. If the relationship is less than two years old, the permanent resident status is conditional. If the couple gets divorced before the conditional status is changed to a permanent status, the divorce may affect the immigrating spouse’s chances of becoming a permanent resident or citizen.
A conditional permanent resident must apply to remove the conditions on his permanent residency jointly with the sponsoring spouse. If the couple is separated or divorced, the spouse seeking permanent residency can file an application alone and seek a waiver if he or she will face undue hardship from being deported, or if the spouse was in an abusive marriage.
If a spouse is already a permanent resident when the divorce is finalized, the divorce may not affect the person’s chances of becoming citizen. However, the divorce could affect the length of time it takes to get citizenship. A permanent resident who is married to a United States citizen can usually apply for citizenship within a shorter time than most other permanent residents.
The fact that one spouse is not a U.S. citizen does not affect the spouses’ ability to seek a divorce in Pennsylvania. As long as the spouse filing for divorce satisfies the residency requirement in Pennsylvania, he or she can file for divorce in Pennsylvania, even if the couple were married in another state or country. For a spouse to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, at least one of the spouses must have resided in the state at least six months before the filing.
A divorce can take months or even years to be completed and a final order entered by the court. At a minimum, a Pennsylvania divorce can last three months. The spouses are not required to stay in Pennsylvania after the initial divorce petition is filed. However, moving away can make going to trial and otherwise handling the divorce more difficult. If the divorce is uncontested and there are no child related issues, then a spouse may choose to move with fewer consequences.
Contact Us to Speak to a Family Law Attorney
Immigration issues, even in the context of a divorce are best discussed with an experienced immigration attorney. For specific issues regarding the divorce, issues of child custody and support, and property division, it is important to speak to an experienced family law attorney. For more information on filing for divorce and the process itself, contact an experienced divorce attorney at the Media, Pennsylvania law firm Barbara Flum Stein & Associates serving Delaware County in all family law matters.