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Fiance visa petition can cause divorce issues

Countless couples living in Miami, Florida, and beyond are together today because they were able to petition for one partner to come to America legally. Family based petitions allow individuals to apply for fiancé or marriage visas, with the expectation that the sponsoring partner complies with specific guidelines. And while these types of immigration policies are known for bringing families together, they can also complicate matters in instances where couples divorce.

When an American citizen petitions to sponsor their non-citizen fiancé or spouse, he or she must agree to the terms of the I-864 affidavit. The affidavit explains that the sponsor is financially responsible for the immigrant. The measure is intended to ensure that the immigrant is not abandoned by their sponsor once they enter the country; it also prohibits the immigrant from becoming a public charge, or someone dependent upon government programs to live. And for supporters of immigration restrictions, the affidavit helps to preserve government-funded programs. In most cases the agreement doesn’t cause an issue, but one dispute illustrates how divorce law and immigration law can collide.

One woman has filed a federal lawsuit against her ex-husband to enforce the immigration agreement he signed years ago. Because the man originally agreed to support his then-fiancé, she feels that he should continue to do so by paying alimony.

According to the plaintiff, her ex-husband is legally bound to comply to the terms of the contract he signed with U.S, government. As such, he is obligated to provide for her so she lives well above the national poverty level.

The ex-husband, who apparently has custody of the couple’s daughter, is arguing that he should no longer be financially responsible for his ex-wife since she has married and divorced again. He contends that the immigration policy should be reformed. 

Source: Fox News Latino, “Unique Texas Divorce Case Highlights Little-Known Immigration Clause,” August 13, 2013

The Florida Bar | 1950 American Bar Association DADE County Bar Association | 1916 Orange County Bar Association Coral Gables Bar Association American Immigration Lawyer Association

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