Fri | Dec 15, 2017

Immigration Corner | Can my mother be deported by her husband?

Published:Tuesday | July 4, 2017 | 12:09 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My mom has been a green card holder living in the US for seven years. She was filed for by her husband, who is a US citizen. After being together for five years, they got divorced and since then he has been threatening to have her deported back to Jamaica. His reasoning is that she got the green card on condition of marriage and by divorcing him, she breached the condition on which she got her green card.

My question is, can she be deported based on the reason he stated?

- YT

Dear Y.T.,

It is unfortunate that your mother is being psychologically abused by her ex-husband.

When a person is petitioned for permanent residency by their spouse, US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) presumes that the marriage was only for immigration purposes. The couple has to prove to USCIS that their marriage is bona fide. Normally, the couple has to provide documentary evidence of the relationship and answer questions to demonstrate knowledge of their spouse. If at the time of the interview the couple is married for less than two years, the immigrant spouse will be issued a two-year green card, and 90 days before the two-year card expires, the immigrant spouse and the sponsor will have to jointly file for a 10-year permanent card. If the couple is divorced before the two year anniversary of the green card, the immigrant spouse will have to file by his/herself for the 10-year card with a waiver of the joint filing requirement.

If the couple remains married and living together three years after the date of the original green card, the immigrant spouse can file for US citizenship.

What matters to USCIS in all spousal filings is the intent of the parties at the time they entered into their marriage. Did they intend to embark upon a real marriage with the intent to live together forever? Half of all marriages end in divorce in America, and the law has a provision for persons who divorce before the two-year anniversary of the green card to file on their own for their 10-year permanent green card.

USCIS is also aware that some persons enter into marriages solely for a green card, and also that US citizen/green card spouses sometimes turn against their immigrant spouses and try to vindictively discredit them. Divorce is insufficient for a person to lose their residency, and your mother's ex-husband is wrong in his assumption. She cannot be deported because she divorced the US citizen husband who filed for her residency. Your mother should consult with an immigration attorney and give the details of her case.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal, international & personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. info@walkerhuntington.com