Divorce and Deportation: What are the Legal Ramifications?

Pleasanton CA divorce attorneyDivorce is difficult enough, and Immigrants in California who are looking at an upcoming divorce have one additional anxiety to account for: the possibility of deportation. As they are not U.S citizen, a person’s immigration status could be up in the air after a divorce. Given the laws around marriage and citizenship status, this fear is not unfounded. 

Today’s post is a look at these laws, as well as when and how a soon-to-be-divorce could face the risk of deportation or immigration status uncertainty. As this is a general overview, we invite anyone dealing with these or other issues to reach out to our law offices for tailored advice. With that, here’s what you need to know about divorce and the potential of deportation in CA. 

When is the Risk of Deportation after Divorce on the Table?

In CA, married immigrants are granted conditional permanent residency for 2 years after they are first married to a U. S. citizen. After 2 years of marriage have passed, the person is then eligible for permanent residency once they and their spouse file a joint petition. Once approved, the possibility of deportation after divorce is no longer a concern. 

Unfortunately, for those who divorce before two years are up, or before they have a chance to file a joint petition, the risk of deportation is still present as their immigation status will be up in the air once the divorce is finalized. 

Mitigating the Risk of Potential Deportation

Barring permanent residency, there are a few ways in which an immigrant can avoid the risk of deportation after a divorce. The first of these is showing that the marriage was in good faith and the intention was to stay with your spouse rather than to secure citizenship. It can be difficult to prove this, however, although factors such as having children together can help paint an accurate and honest attempt at good faith. 

In instances where domestic abuse is part of the divorce equation, an immigrant can seek to potentially avoid getting deported. Evidence such as hospital records, witness testimony, police documentation, and more can help prove that domestic abuse was an immediate and pressing threat in the marriage. 

Finally, an immigrant can seek to prove that getting deported would cause undue hardship or extreme/unusual duress. This can be a route for those whose country of origin is ravaged by violence, instability, and more. 

For all these approaches, you could be facing a potentially uphill battle and the courts are likely to rake through every relevant detail to ensure they are making the right decision. Considering the number of challenges that immigrants face, it’s important that you prepare by ensuring you have a skilled legal professional on your side. 

Learn more about how the Law Offices at James P. White can help you with any matters relating to divorce, immigration status after a divorce or separation, or any other matter relating to family law in CA.