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Divorce: Can it place an immigration legal status at risk?

Many households in Texas include married couples where one person is a U.S. citizen and the other is not. In fact, many immigrants use their marriages as bases to apply for green cards. Sometimes, the U.S. government suspects married couples of fraud, meaning they entered marriage for the sole purpose of helping the non-citizen spouse obtain permanent residency in the United States. Couples whose relationships are legitimate may also still encounter legal status challenges, especially if they later divorce.

If an immigrant's eligibility for a green card is based on marriage and that marriage is dissolved, he or she may be at risk for deportation. However, in certain circumstances, the spouse in question may still qualify for a waiver. For instance, if deportation would create extreme hardship, it may be possible to avoid removal.

Prior to the Immigration Act of 1990, in order to qualify for a waiver, the immigrant spouse had to be the petitioner in the divorce. He or she must have also had legitimate cause to file for divorce. These requirements were eliminated when the Immigration Act of 1990 was enacted.

If an immigrant spouse has already obtained a green card before getting a divorce, it is unlikely that the break-up would negatively affect his or her legal status. Divorce is often complex as are immigration laws. When the two intersect, it can be challenging to find a solution to a particular problem. Seeking guidance from a Texas attorney who is well-versed in both areas of law is a wise decision for anyone currently facing such issues.

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