According to information from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), there are more than 10 million people in the U.S. who are illegal immigrants. If you are one of these illegal immigrants and you and your spouse, who is a resident of the United States, are filing for divorce, the process will be the same as when two U.S. citizens file for divorce. However, there is the risk that you may be deported.
If you are an illegal immigrant, you are in a difficult situation. Keep in mind that as long as you remain in the U.S. with this status, you are always at risk of being deported by ICE. This is true even after you marry an American citizen because you will not be able to get a green card legally to signify your permanent legal status unless you have filled out the proper immigration paperwork.
It is important to note that divorce proceedings are completely separate from immigration enforcement. You, or your spouse who is a citizen, can file for a divorce in any court in the U.S. In fact, you will use the same forms that citizens do. The court can also award you spousal maintenance, child support and child custody, even if you are known to be an illegal immigrant. The divorce court will not contact ICE regarding your status.
Risks of Deportation
Once your marriage is legally ended, you are still at risk of being deported by ICE if you are discovered as being an illegal immigrant. If you are ever arrested by ICE and you have legal custody of your children from a past marriage, you may have to make the decision of taking your children along with you to your native country, or surrendering custody to your ex-spouse. You will also be legally barred from re-entering the United States for a period of 10 years.
If you don’t not have a marriage that is abusive or dangerous to you or to your children, then you may want to speak with your spouse, who is a citizen, about deferring the divorce until you are able to acquire an immigration waiver. This is a commitment from the government in the United States that the past you have as someone who entered the U.S. illegally is overlooked and you can acquire the right to legally enter and continue to live in the U.S.
If you believe that the divorce cannot be delayed, then you may want to hire an immigration divorce lawyer to help with your case. There are other options that you have, but these will need to be determined on a case by case basis.
To learn more about acquiring a divorce if you are an illegal immigrant, contact the family law attorneys at the Carolan Family Law Firm, P.A. by calling 305-358-2330. Learning what your legal rights are can be beneficial during such a confusing and tumultuous time.