There are many rights for non-US citizens you may not be aware of that could affect your residency in the United States.
What Doesn't Change When Divorcing as a Non-US Citizen
According to Divorce Source, you are entitled to many of the same resources as US citizens. Just as your spouse may hire a lawyer to help with the proceedings, you are also entitled to use a lawyer to help you. You are entitled to use the court system as you see fit and have the same legal rights having to do with divorce as your spouse.
Additional Divorce Rights for Non-US Citizens
The main thing that non-US citizens need to worry about when divorcing a United States citizen is how it will affect their legal residency. Here are two cases of how divorcing your spouse may influence your ability to gain permanent residency.
- If you married a United States citizen to gain citizenship, you must be married for at least two years to your spouse. If the marriage lasted less than two years, you might be able to get a waiver if the marriage was in good faith. To justify a legitimate marriage, you and your spouse must have property owned together or have children.
- For residents of the US with a green card and married to a US citizen, you may have to wait longer until you will be able to take the citizenship exam. If married for three years, you will be able to take the citizenship exam. If the marriage ends before that time, you will have to wait until you have been a resident in the United States for five years.
Internet Sources for Additional Information
Many sites provide information on divorce rights of non-US citizens. You can possibly find information on your specific case in the following articles.
The article, Divorce and Related Immigration Issues of an Immigrant Spouse by Law Office of Rong T. Kohtz, discusses what to do if you have a pending application and if you have conditional permanent residency. This site also has another useful article, Immigration and Divorce by Theodore Sliwinski, Attorney at Law.
- Zhang & Associates, P.C. U.S. Attorneys & Counselors
The FAQ-Divorce and Immigration webpage discusses specific circumstances that may apply to your situation.
This website has an article, Aliens and Divorce - Overcoming Marriage Fraud by Catharine M. Venzon, Esquire, if you feel you are a victim of a fraudulent marriage.
Victims of Fraudulent Marriage
If you feel your spouse has married you only for citizenship, you may be a victim of marriage fraud. This can be devastating and it happens more often than you think. You may feel hurt by your spouse's deceitfulness and want your spouse deported. However, according to Theordore Slinwinsk, Esquire in an article, Immigration and Divorce, the process of deporting your spouse may cause more harm than good.
Divorce may only have a small affect on your process of citizenship in the United States. You may only have to endure waiting a few years before you are eligible to acquire legal permanent residency. If you need to apply for a waiver, you may need to do this as soon as possible so it will be in effect after you are no longer married. The best way to find out the steps you will need to take once divorced from your spouse is to contact a lawyer that specializes in immigration laws. .