Immigration Won’t Recognize My Divorce

By Jamie Gorton

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has complex rules about who is married and who isn’t married for immigration purposes. A common problem is when Immigration won’t accept your divorce as being valid.

But my divorce is legal in my home country!

Example: Mr. and Mrs. Janeiro are married in Brazil but come to the United States. While in America, their marriage ends and Mr. Janeiro files for divorce in Brazil. The court in Brazil grants the divorce. Mr. Janeiro remarries and his new wife wants to apply for his green card. Immigration denies the marriage because they do not recognize the Brazilian divorce.

Explanation: Immigration is very worried about “mail-order divorces.” In other words, Immigration enforces a rule that both spouses can’t be out of the country that grants the divorce. The solution is to have a court in your home state issue a new divorce.

Remember: The state where you live is the court that should handle the divorce, even though the marriage was from another country.

The problem with “accidental bigamy.”

Example: Mr. Janeiro thinks he is divorced because he has a mail-order divorce from Brazil. He remarries, even though Immigration doesn’t think he’s divorced. He is now practicing “accidental bigamy.” Even if he fixes the problem, he will have to disclose accidental bigamy if he applies for Citizenship.

Explanation: Bigamy and polygamy are crimes in all 50 states and can even prevent someone from becoming a Citizen. However, “accidental bigamy” means a person is married to two people at the same time, on accident and may not necessarily be a crime. It is very important to have the best immigration lawyer you can help you if you are in a situation of accidental bigamy; especially when you apply for citizenship.

The best lawyer to handle this kind of situation would be a lawyer who practices Family Law (to fix the divorce), Criminal Law (to protect your rights), and Immigration Law (to present your case to Immigration). I’m always happy to talk with my blog readers about their divorce or accidental bigamy. Contact my firm and schedule your consultation today to find out how we can help you and your family.

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