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The effects of immigration on divorce law

Anyone who saw the movie "Green Card" with Gerard Depardieu is familiar with the concept of marrying for citizenship. It is a long-standing tradition in many countries, that the spouse of a citizen is granted citizenship in their partner's country of origin. But what if the couple divorces and the naturalized citizen then marries a non-citizen? Does the new spouse receive citizenship? Recently, this issue arose for a couple in New York.

The question, albeit interesting, comes with a rather simple answer: Yes. However, like most answers concerning divorce legal issues, this one comes with some caveats. Citizenship is bestowed on a non-citizen that marries an American only if the marriage is bona fide. If the marriage was legitimate, and not simply a "green card" marriage, then the new spouse can receive the citizenship benefits.

Typically, if a person has evidence that the prior marriage was genuine, then they do not have to wait to petition for their new spouse. If this is not the case, then they must wait until they have been a permanent resident for five years before petitioning. The rules concerning this process are detailed in the Marriage Fraud Act of 1986, as amended by the Immigration Act of 1990.

Questions about citizenship through marriage and the end of marriage are complicated, but there are attorneys who specialize in these issues. While some may specialize specifically in immigration law, family attorneys are also an ideal source for legal advice. Unlike some lawyers, family law attorneys must have expertise in multiple areas of law that affect family law. From real estate and tax to criminal law associated with abuse, and immigration law associated with marriage, family law attorneys have a wide range of legal knowledge.

Source: New York Daily News, "A divorced, remarried citizen can file for a green card for his new wife, provided the marriage qualifies as 'real'," Allan Wernick, November 29, 2012

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