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Citizenship, nationality, residency, and divorce

Does a person’s citizenship affect divorce?

Whether you and your partner are foreign nationals or you're a U.S. citizen looking to obtain a marriage license with a non-U.S. citizen, you may be aware that there are specific prerequisites to fulfill before your marriage becomes official. While all marriages conducted within the United States are considered legally binding partnerships, to ensure the legal recognition of your marriage by either the U.S. or your home country, certain criteria must be met.

It's advisable to familiarize yourself with these conditions and ensure that your marriage is officially recognized according to the applicable regulations.

Disclaimer from Anthoor Law Group: While we work with folks in Fremont, CA, and the entire Bay Area regardless of if they are citizens or residents, we specialize in family law. For up-to-date information and legal counsel regarding immigration laws, please consult an immigration attorney.

Can you marry a non-citizen?

Yes, you can marry a non-US citizen. 

If you plan to wed a non-citizen in the United States, the initial steps are to gather all the documents necessary. Typically, a valid passport can serve as proof of identity, this along with a green card and possibly a birth certificate can help with any legal requirements. 

Consider signing prenuptial agreements

When contemplating marriage, it's worth considering the option of signing a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement, often referred to as a prenup, is a legally binding contract that can help couples outline the division of assets, financial responsibilities, and other important matters in the event of a divorce or separation. While it may not be the most romantic topic, a well-crafted prenup can offer both parties peace of mind by providing a clear framework for handling financial and property issues should the marriage not work out. It's an opportunity for open and honest communication between partners, allowing them to address difficult subjects in a proactive and respectful manner. 

Prenuptial agreements can be particularly beneficial for those with significant assets, children from previous marriages, and when marrying someone from another country who might not be a citizen. Consulting with legal professionals to draft a prenup that aligns with your needs and concerns is often a wise step to take as you embark on this important commitment.

Post-nuptial legal steps

Once you've celebrated your marriage with your spouse, it's crucial to address the legal aspects to ensure their lawful residency in the country. It's important to note that the mere act of getting married does not automatically grant an immigrant spouse United States citizenship. Instead, the foreign spouse typically needs to initiate the process of applying for a green card to secure permanent residence. This application process entails a significant amount of paperwork and documentation. It's essential to be aware that there are specific eligibility criteria that must be met. 

These criteria can include factors such as a clean criminal history, absence of medical issues that would pose a threat to public health, and no prior immigration violations. Additionally, the authorities closely scrutinize the authenticity of the marriage to prevent fraudulent claims, and if they suspect any deception, they may deny the green card application. Therefore, navigating this process requires attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the requirements involved.

Citizenship and Divorce

The Bay Area, including San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County, is known for its diverse mix of people. Residents of the Bay Area come from all walks of life, all 50 states, and countless foreign countries. Santa Clara County is 40% foreign born for example. No matter where you’re from and regardless if you are a US citizen or have permanent residence status, going through a divorce is a difficult and often complex legal process.

If you're a noncitizen or a green card holder preparing for divorce, it's completely natural to feel anxious about the upcoming process. You might be wondering if divorce could result in deportation orders and what typical effects it has on your immigration status.

You could also be on the other side of things. If you’re a citizen who married a non-citizen, you might be worried about how a divorce might affect your spouse’s status. So, let’s go over some of the details. 

What happens if I divorce my US citizen spouse before I receive my green card?

If you divorce before the two-year conditional period, then your legal status will depend on your initial entry into the US. Meaning, if you divorce your U.S. citizen spouse before receiving your green card, it can have significant implications on your immigration status. 

Typically, green cards obtained through marriage to a U.S. citizen are conditional for the first two years. If you divorce before those two years have passed, you may face difficulties in removing the conditions and securing permanent residency. However, there are exceptions and options available, such as filing for a waiver based on good faith marriage or extreme hardship. It's crucial to consult an immigration attorney to understand your specific circumstances and explore the best course of action to protect your immigration status.

What happens if I divorce my US citizen spouse after I receive my green card?

If you divorce your U.S. citizen spouse after receiving your green card, it generally will not affect your permanent residency status. Once you have obtained your green card, it grants you lawful permanent resident status independently of your marital status. However, it's essential to ensure that you continue to meet the legal requirements for maintaining your green card, such as living in the United States and fulfilling any other obligations. 

Additionally, if you obtained your green card within the first two years of marriage, it may initially be conditional, and you'll need to apply to have the conditions removed before it becomes a permanent green card. In this case, you may need to demonstrate that the marriage was entered into in good faith, even if it ultimately ended in divorce. Consulting an immigration attorney can help you navigate the specific requirements and implications of your situation.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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