So You Think You’re Divorced: Evaluating the Consequences of Foreign Divorces in Immigration Processes, 0818 RIBJ, RIBJ, 67 RI Bar J., No. 1, Pg. 9

Author:Joseph Molina Flynn, Esq. Molina Flynn Law Offices Providence.
Position::Vol. 67 1 Pg. 9
 
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So You Think You’re Divorced: Evaluating the Consequences of Foreign Divorces in Immigration Processes

Vol. 67 No. 1 Pg. 9

Rhode Island Bar Journal

August, 2018

July, 2018

Joseph Molina Flynn, Esq. Molina Flynn Law Offices Providence.

Divorce is tricky. For most, divorce is a trying time rife with emotions and controversy. In a typical divorce there are several issues to be decided: child custody, support, alimony, division of assets and debts. For some, there are far deeper issues to be considered, including, whether the divorce is valid for purposes of future immigration proceedings.

Immigration affords United States citizens the opportunity to confer immigration benefits on their spouses.[1]Notwithstanding additional barriers for individuals who entered the country without appropriate documentation, an immediate relative petition can bestow upon an immigrant the benefit of obtaining lawful permanent resident status through the adjustment of status process.[2]But, what if either party was previously married? A copy of the document terminating the previous marriage must be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”).[3]

Divorces in the United States can often be slow and costly. In Rhode Island, for example, the process can take several months or years. Even after the divorce hearing the waiting period allows for the entry of final judgment only after three (3) months from the date of the decision.[4]In other countries, the divorce process is streamlined, and a divorce can be obtained quickly, often in a matter of days. In some countries, the divorce process does not require the appearance of either party, and a divorce may be obtained through a power of attorney.

Immigration processes, even those which may seem simple at first glance, can become complicated when a foreign divorce is involved. USCIS considers a foreign divorce valid “depend[ing] on the interpretation of the divorce laws of the foreign country that granted the divorce and the reciprocity laws in the state of the United States where the applicant remarried.”[5]Rhode Island’s statutory framework does not recognize divorces obtained in foreign...

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