Divorce, custody and immigrants: A tricky path to citizenship, p2

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2013 | Uncategorized

We are continuing our discussion of a woman’s situation with her immigration status, her marital status and her wish to bring her son to the U.S. In our last post, we discussed the different ways she could first establish permanent residency and then become a citizen.

As we said, if she married a U.S. citizen, she would have had to wait three years to become a citizen. Naturalization would depend on her living with her husband “in marital union” during those three years and during the application process. Once she earned her citizenship, it seems, she could divorce her husband without repercussions, according to the  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

But what of her son?

There are a few factors to look at here. First, if her son was a permanent resident and not yet 18 years old when she became a citizen, he is automatically granted citizenship. Or, if the child is under 18 and becomes a permanent resident now that his mother is a citizen, as soon as he qualifies for permanent residency he becomes a citizen.

From the facts in this case, though, the son will be joining the mother in the U.S. from China. It is unlikely he is a resident. However, because the mother is a naturalized citizen, her son has a slightly easier road ahead, depending on his birth date.

If her son was not born or not yet 18 years old on Feb. 27, 2001, he can become a citizen if he is not married and if he lives here in the U.S. in the legal custody of his mother. When he qualifies for permanent residency, he also becomes a citizen.

If her son had passed his 18th birthday on Feb. 26, 2001, the rules become more complicated. One rule turns on whether his father is alive, another on whether the boy was born out of wedlock.

Can she bring her son to live with her and still divorce her husband? As we said in our last post, it depends. It depends on a lot of things, all of which should be discussed with an experience famil law professional.

Source: New York Daily News, “Divorce will have no effect on son’s citizenship, But rules get stricter if he’s over 18,” Allan Wernick, July 22, 2013


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