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Baltimore County Family Law Attorney Blog

Baltimore & Towson Lawyer Discusses Divorce, Separation and Your Immigration Status

Written by Amar Weisman » January 26, 2015 »

Individuals who are in the U.S. on a visa that was granted based on a spouse's application, take note: If you intend to separate or divorce your spouse, your lawful status may be affected and your ability to stay in the country could be in jeopardy. Your Baltimore and Towson family law attorney wants you to give careful consideration to whether or not you really want to take such a serious step, and if you do decide to make that move, think about the timing of your separation or divorce.

Divorce vs. Separation

In order to protect yourself and your status, it is imperative you understand that difference between separation and divorce.  Separations permit couples to live apart while remaining legally married, while divorces legally and completely end a marriage. If a party's immigration status is at issue, the Board of Immigration Appeals or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will interpret Maryland law accordingly and decide if a separation or divorce ended the union.

So, how will your status be affected? The answer largely depends on the immigration benefit you received, as well as how and when you received the benefit. Also, your spouse's status will be very important when determining the effect of divorce or separation on your status.  For instance, if you obtained conditional resident status through marriage, that status is generally only granted for two years. To become a permanent resident, you will need to petition to remove the conditions of residence and file the relevant form within the last 90 days prior to your green card's expiration.

Normally, couples file the form simultaneously and include documentary proof that they are still married. But if the marriage has already ended, a party can file the necessary form on his or her own by filing a waiver. Please note, individuals who are permanent residents with green cards at the time of divorce should not experience any change in status, but the divorce might cause you to wait longer to become naturalized.

Things to Consider

As noted above, your status may be affected by a separation or divorce if it is dependent upon your spouse's status, meaning your status depends on your spouse's pending visa application or current visa. For instance, if you are married to an H-1B work visa holder and your spouse's adjustment of status application is approved but the priority date is not current, a separation or divorce might disqualify you as a dependent. If that occurs, you might not be able to get a green card once the priority date becomes current.

If you are a conditional resident, your status may be affected by divorce or separation. More specifically, if you came to the country within two years of marriage based on your spouse's status as a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen, you are considered to be a conditional resident. This also applies to individuals who entered the country and adjusted their status while in the U.S.

If you have concerns about how a divorce or separation might affect your immigrant status, contact a well-versed family law lawyer at the Law Offices of Amar Weisman, LLC right away.

Call (410) 321-4994 For a Free Consultation 

Call The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman at (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free ConsultationThe Purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you want to retain this law firm as your Baltimore County & Harford County Family Lawyer. If you do wish to proceed, then you must pay a retainer. See Our Policy on Fees and Costs. The family firm is located next to The Circuit Court for Baltimore County, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204.