One issue that may affect an immigration case is whether a divorce from a previous spouse is final. Ensuring that someone is actually divorced and free to re-marry is crucial, especially if a new spouse will be filing an immigration petition. If the divorce occurred in Massachusetts, the divorce does not become final the day of the final hearing before the judge. Under the law, the parties have to wait for what is called the nisi period to expire. This period may be 90 or 120 days after this final hearing, depending on the circumstances of the case. At least in Massachusetts, the court does not automatically send a divorce decree when the divorce becomes final. It is a good idea to obtain a certified copy of the divorce decree from the court showing that the divorce is in fact final. Call the clerk’s office of the Probate Court in the county where the divorce case was filed to request this.

Another issue that may affect an immigration case, is getting a divorce abroad. Whether a foreign divorce will be valid for immigration purposes depends both on the law in the foreign country and the laws of the place where the remarriage occurred. Difficulties may be encountered in an immigration case if neither of the spouses was residing or present in the country where the divorce was obtained. The fact that a marriage occurred in a foreign country does not necessarily mean that the divorce has to occur there. It may be possible to obtain a divorce in the United States instead. Seeking advice and information on the divorce process in the United States is important before trying to obtain one abroad.

And, one last point on divorces, if a (former) spouse says he or she was able to get a divorce without involving the other spouse in the process, it is advisable to corroborate this information. It may be that a divorce has not occurred or they may be issues with the divorce that may affect the validity of a recent marriage and, possibly, an immigration case.

Ensuring that someone is properly divorced may be very important to an immigration case. If you have any questions regarding this type of matter, feel free to schedule a consultation.

~Anielka S. Godinez