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Separation vs. Divorce: The Impact of Marital Status on Immigration

immigration and divorce

Divorce can be messy and complicated and confusing and heartbreaking all at once—and adding immigration status to the mix only serves to further convolute the process. For those who have been granted a visa based on the immigration status of their spouse, deciding whether to legally separate or divorce can directly impact your ability to remain in the United States. Matters of immigration and marital status are closely intertwined and wildly complex, and while no immigration attorney can offer a one-sized-fits-all solution, we can at least offer some clarity and guidance.

Divorce or separation can impact your immigration status in the following situations:

  • If you are a conditional resident, meaning you used your spouse’s status as a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to immigrate within the last two years.

  • If your status is dependent on your spouse’s status, for example, you are married to someone with a current or pending visa application. A change in your marital status may disqualify you as a dependent.

It’s important to understand the difference between divorce and separation. Divorce occurs when a court legally ends a marriage. Separation occurs when a couple is allowed to remain legally married, but live apart from each other. Depending on state law and the nuances of your case, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will decide whether your marriage ended due to separation or divorce. It’s best to have an experienced attorney, who understands how family law and immigration impact each other, present your case in order to achieve a successful outcome.

It’s also important to understand that the USCIS believes that many immigrant marriages are fraudulent, and were only entered into in order to obtain U.S. residency. But we believe that most immigrant marriages are based on a real relationship—and that real relationships sometimes just don’t work out. Because of the USCIS’s skepticism (and the complexity of immigration and family law altogether), it’s recommend that a qualified immigration attorney present your case, tell your story, and negotiate the outcome you desire. Your immigration status is worth fighting for.

Contact Choudhury Law

Choudhury Law is one of Ohio’s most trusted immigration and family law firms, known for showing compassion and empathy to all clients. If you are in the process of immigrating to the United States, but have found yourself facing divorce or separation, please contact us. We are experienced, transparent, and take extreme pride in helping immigrants secure their place in this great country.

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