Throughout his election campaign, President Trump repeatedly promised to crack down on illegal immigration—a promise recently reinforced by statements to the press in the aftermath of terrorist acts abroad. This naturally raises the question of how a stricter immigration policy would impact international divorces. If you recently obtained a green card by marrying a U.S. citizen, does filing for divorce present a greater threat to your current legal immigration standing, or to your current immigration process?
The short answer is no—your divorce will not likely jeopardize your immigration status any more or less than it would under current laws. However, under tightened immigration rules, your international divorce might come under greater scrutiny to ensure the rules are being followed. Let’s offer some perspective to understand this issue more clearly.
International marriage and divorce rules are already strict.
Since fraudulent marriages are one of the most common tactics for illegal immigration, any international divorce automatically raises some red flags with immigration authorities, especially if the marriage is less than two years old. If you have been given conditional residence due to marriage and you divorce before being granted permanent residency, you will most likely be asked to leave the country—and likewise if there is sufficient evidence that the marriage was a cover for immigration. This reality is unlikely to change under a Trump administration because immigration officials already closely monitor international marriages and divorces.
Proposed immigration crackdowns are focused at the point of entry.
According to the incoming Trump administration, a stricter immigration policy would focus primarily on Muslim immigrants from nations with higher rates of terrorism. As controversial as this proposal is, it focuses mainly on the point of entry—that is, whether a person will be allowed into the country to begin with. If you are already married to a U.S. citizen and then divorce, you’ve already been granted entry, so you wouldn’t necessarily be affected by these tightened rules. There’s no guarantee that you wouldn’t come under greater scrutiny if one or the other spouse is Muslim, but neither is there any indication that divorce would put you at greater risk of deportation than you are under current laws.
Regardless of how a stricter immigration policy would impact international divorces, navigating the waters of immigration and divorce can still be very tricky, and you shouldn’t attempt it without a skilled attorney’s advice. Contact our offices for an initial consultation.