California immigrants facing the possibility of divorce are likely to experience anxiety and distress over what will happen to their immigration status if they are divorced. A divorce is stressful enough, but when the additional challenge of not being a U.S. citizen is added, the situation can quickly become overwhelming.
The fear of deportation is understandable, and an awareness of the laws and rights available to divorcing California immigrants is important. The first thing to know is that married California immigrants residing in the United States have conditional permanent residency for the first 2 years of the marriage.
After you’ve been married for 2 years, you will become a permanent resident if a joint petition for permanent residency filed by you and your spouse was approved. If you divorce within the first 2 years of the marriage, or before filing a joint petition for permanent residency, you may face the threat of deportation.
Options for avoiding deportation
Fortunately, deportation may be avoided in certain situations. One intent behind the 2-year role is to ensure that you did not get married simply to become a U.S. citizen. Showing that you married your spouse in good faith and intended to reside together and have a traditional marriage relationship can help you avoid deportation.
Proving good faith can be difficult. Good faith can be shown by things like purchasing joint property together or having children.
Proof of domestic abuse is another way to potentially avoid deportation. Domestic abuse or extremely cruel treatment can be shown through your testimony or the testimony of others who witnessed the abuse or treatment. Records of any hospitalizations or pictures of any injuries inflicted on you by your spouse can also be used.
A third way to avoid deportation is to demonstrate that deportation would cause you extreme hardship. If the country you came from is shown to be unsafe or dangerous, or if you can show that your life would be substantially negatively affected by going back there, you may meet the standard for an extreme hardship exception.
Help is available
Immigrants face many hardships, and the path to becoming a permanent resident is often complex and full of challenges. When a divorce is thrown into the mix, the situation becomes even more demanding. Having compassionate and experiences professionals on your side is essential.