When it rains, it pours ('as the saying goes'). This is life unfortunately. If you or someone you know is in U.S. Immigration removal/deportation proceedings and the legal relief is based on a U.S. Citizen Spouse ("USC"), it is vital to keep the relationship with your USC spouse healthy. However, if the relationship becomes unbearable and separation and divorce becomes inevitable, it is important to take steps to guard against immediate removal and deportation from the United States. An I-130/I-485 Adjustment of Status based on USC spouse is based on a bona fide marriage, not whether the couple has marital problems. It is important to understand the difference when sitting down with legal counsel.
The intersection of family law and U.S. Immigration law has become more and more common for our non-U.S. citizen clients. Domestic violence and divorce for a non-immigrant visa holder or a U.S. Permanent resident can result in devastating U.S. immigration consequences.
Recently, we have seen a string of 'family-immigration law' cases.
First example: A U.S. citizen filed a Temporary Protective Order against his wife who was on a conditional green card. He deprived her of her Green card and other basic humanitarian rights as well. We were able to resolve the U.S. Immigration issues for the non-citizen wife by ensuring that her cross Protective Order, against spouse, was converted into a Final Protective order. She was immediately eligible for a I-751 Waiver based on cruelty. The effect of this Waiver released her from all conditions on her Green Card and allowed her to gain U.S. citizenship in three years instead of five.
Second Example: A non-immigrant visa couple in the United States ended up in a domestic dispute. Once again cross temporary protective orders were filed against each other. The husband was on an F-1 visa, while the wife was on an F-2. The F-1 student ended up being removed from the Sevis system, which is monitored by the Department of Homeland Security-ICE. As a result of the protective order he was detained, and then placed in removal proceeding. On the other hand, the F-2 wife filed police charges against the husband and she became eligible for a U visa which confers U.S. Green Card status.
The above two examples have been simplified for clarity. The moral of the story, if you or your family member is a non-U.S. citizen and faced with a family or domestic matter of any magnitude, it is essential to consult with a U.S. Immigration attorney.
We consider these family matters an emergency, and have an emergency text line available at (703)966.0907. We have offices in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. You may call to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys by calling our office number(s) conveniently listed at www.scottcclaw.com.