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With the upcoming presidential election, crisis at the border, flood of migrants, and New York City being a sanctuary city, the topic of immigration has been getting a lot of air time, with all its inherent controversies and polar view-points.  

The magnified “crisis” is confined in scope to the illegal immigration issue.  

Untarnished by the mass media coverage is the uncontroversial paths towards legal immigration that have been steadfast and secure bastions for many years.  

A longstanding path is legally obtaining United States citizenship via marriage to an American citizen. See also, https://www.ice.gov.  

United States citizenship is one of the greatest assets we have. We sometimes take this for granted. It is incredibly sought after by many have-nots.  

America on its worst days is better than many other countries on their best days.  

We interviewed renowned immigration attorney Candice L. Ackermann, Esq. of Visa Law Pros – www.visalawpros.com – to discuss the intersection between divorce and immigration.

The golden rule is that a marriage entered into between a US citizen and non-US citizen needs to be a “bona fide marriage” at the time it is entered into to be recognized by immigration. A bona fide marriage forges the legal path of citizenship for the immigrant spouse. 

A bona fide marriage must be proven to the immigration authorities with evidence and documentation.  

The two most powerful pieces of evidence are proof of joint residence and commingling of marital funds, such as a joint bank account.  

None of us are so naive as to believe that all these marriages are authentic. We all assume that a percentage is based on artifice – a couple portraying the surface layer optics of a marriage – a citizen helping an immigrant friend or acquaintance as a benevolent gesture or in exchange for something tangible or intangible promised.  

But a percentage – larger than you may think – of these marriages are based on a genuine desire to build a life with the other person.  

Notwithstanding such aspirational marital goals at the outset, with an overall high divorce rate in this country, these marriages are, obviously, just as likely or unlikely to fail and end up in divorce as any other.  

Trouble comes when the marriage irretrievably breaks down within the first two years and before the final immigration interview to remove conditions to the immigrant spouse’s green card.  

Timing is critical. If the immigrant spouse can prove the marriage was bona fide when entered into, they usually don’t have to worry if a divorce action is commenced prior to their final immigration interview, but this is not a bullet-proof catch-all. There are exceptions and nuances that need to be accounted for on a case-by-case basis.  

If you and your spouse find yourself in this conundrum and you have questions about an inevitable and impending divorce, contact us at The Law & Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein – www.cherylsteinesq.com – to learn more.

Cheryl Stein, Esq.
The Law and Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein
745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 500
New York, NY 10151
Phone: (646) 884-2324
E-mail: cheryl@cherylsteinesq.com