When a citizen divorces a non-citizen, it's not unusual for them to list bad faith as one of the reasons for the divorce. What the person is essentially stating when they use this reason is the non-citizen only married him or her for a green card. Although this may not be true, having this on an official record can hurt your chances for permanent resident status and may result in your application for citizenship being denied. Here's what you can do to counter this claim and protect yourself from possible deportation:
Show Trappings of Normal Marriage
When you get divorced, you must file a request to waive the requirement that you and your spouse file a joint petition for your permanent residency. The problem is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will look at all available public records to help it reach its decision in your case. So if your spouse listed bad faith as a reason for the divorce, you will have to include evidence your marriage was real with your petition to counter your ex's claim.
There are specific things that happen in normal marriages. The spouses live together, they contribute financially to their mutual needs and lifestyle, and they typically interact with each other's friends and family. You can show your marriage was legit by providing the following types of evidence:
- Deed, mortgage, or lease documents with both your names on them
- The same address on driver's licenses, bank statements, credit card bills, insurance policies
- Joint bank or credit card accounts
- Co-signed loans
- Joint tax returns
- Listing spouse as beneficiary on life insurance policies, trusts, or wills
- Both names on children's birth or adoption certificate
- Any records indicating a relationship with step-children (e.g. name on school records, medical records, listed as emergency contact)
- Affidavits from friends and family members about the nature of your relationship
While just one piece of evidence may not have much impact, the totality of your documents can provide support that your marriage was legitimate.
Let the Divorce Go to Trial
Many times divorcing partners will simply settle their separation out of court. While this may be the cheaper and less stressful option, it doesn't give you an opportunity to publicly counter your ex's claim the marriage was a sham. By letting the divorce go to trial, you can get your objection to your spouse's bad faith claim as well as any evidence backing up your side of the story on the public record.
As noted previously, the USCIS reviews any available public records about you, so going this route can minimize the impact your ex's bad faith claim has on your residency application.
For more information on or help with this problem, contact a family law attorney like those at Carmen DiAmore-Siah Attorney At Law who has experience in immigration issues.