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#1
Old 08-18-2009, 12:13 PM
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if I marry overseas am i always married in the US?

If I marry overseas but only return by myself (and will it matter where?) am I married in the US, and what does that effect? Taxes, marriage here, etc.? What if I never hear from my long lost for-ee-ner spouse? Do I have to disolve the marriage here or back there or neither?

[You can see that I have abandonment issues about things that have never happened and never will.]
#2
Old 08-18-2009, 12:20 PM
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My marriage in Australia has been recognised by the U.S. government for immigration purposes (my wife got a green card based on the marriage) and for income tax purposes (we file jointly).
#3
Old 08-18-2009, 12:24 PM
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I can only address taxes, but it's a very weird issue on its own. Unless there's some kind of treaty (such as we have with Canada and Mexico), you are considered married, but cannot choose Married Filing Joint status unless the spouse qualifies as a resident alien. (For example, they could meet that by living here for 183 days). So these people generally have to choose Married Filing Separate which is the worst possible filing status as far as tax credits and deductions. If they meet some additional qualifications, they might be able to file as Single or Head of Household.

What really makes this messy is that no Human Resources department knows this. They tell the immigrants to have withholding done based on being married and including the deductions and credits for kids. Then the poor folks owe a fortune when they file in April and find out that HR people don't know the first thing about taxes.
#4
Old 08-18-2009, 12:24 PM
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You end up with a divorce mess. I know someone that is in limbo after marrying a German while stationed there. You'll have to get things done in both countries and if the spouse is uncooperative once it's done in the foreign country, good luck on getting it legally finished here.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 08-18-2009 at 12:25 PM.
#5
Old 08-18-2009, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giles View Post
My marriage in Australia has been recognised by the U.S. government for immigration purposes (my wife got a green card based on the marriage) and for income tax purposes (we file jointly).
Where and how do you divorce her? You know, when you get tired of all that Aussie drinking behavior that seemed so cute years ago.
#6
Old 08-18-2009, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by drhess View Post
Where and how do you divorce her? You know, when you get tired of all that Aussie drinking behavior that seemed so cute years ago.
Since we both reside in Ohio, I assume we can divorce here. Australia would recognise the divorce, under section 104(3) of the Family Law Act:
Quote:
(3) A divorce or the annulment of a marriage, or the legal separation of the parties to a marriage, effected in accordance with the law of an overseas jurisdiction shall be recognized as valid in Australia where:
(a) the respondent was ordinarily resident in the overseas jurisdiction at the relevant date; ...

Last edited by Giles; 08-18-2009 at 12:53 PM.
#7
Old 08-18-2009, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
You end up with a divorce mess. I know someone that is in limbo after marrying a German while stationed there. You'll have to get things done in both countries and if the spouse is uncooperative once it's done in the foreign country, good luck on getting it legally finished here.
I got married in Hong Kong and divorced while my ex was living in Ireland and I was nominally living in the UK. Only had to get divorced in the UK (particularly handy because Ireland's divorce laws are draconian). I sent the paperwork to Ireland and she returned it direct to the court in London. It was easy and painless.
#8
Old 08-18-2009, 01:54 PM
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Interesting question. Could a man visiting the US with his young bride be arrested for statutory rape?
#9
Old 08-18-2009, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by EdwardLost View Post
Interesting question. Could a man visiting the US with his young bride be arrested for statutory rape?
Eww.
#10
Old 08-18-2009, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
I got married in Hong Kong and divorced while my ex was living in Ireland and I was nominally living in the UK. Only had to get divorced in the UK (particularly handy because Ireland's divorce laws are draconian). I sent the paperwork to Ireland and she returned it direct to the court in London. It was easy and painless.
Notice I said if the spouse doesn't cooperate. This case is a spiteful hateful spouse and the court system over there would have to be petitioned by the USA spouse to get the other to file the stuff for here. The German spouse will not return any paperwork or cooperate in any way. The spouse in the USA has given up and decided to live with partners instead of marrying.
#11
Old 08-18-2009, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
I can only address taxes, but it's a very weird issue on its own. Unless there's some kind of treaty (such as we have with Canada and Mexico), you are considered married, but cannot choose Married Filing Joint status unless the spouse qualifies as a resident alien. (For example, they could meet that by living here for 183 days).
Is this a tax law thing? Because you certainly do not automatically qualify as a resident alien by simply living here for 183 days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi
What really makes this messy is that no Human Resources department knows this. They tell the immigrants to have withholding done based on being married and including the deductions and credits for kids. Then the poor folks owe a fortune when they file in April and find out that HR people don't know the first thing about taxes.
Which is why every HR person I've ever met won't answer these questions. Because it's the employee's responsibility to understand the tax implications of how they complete their withholding.
#12
Old 08-18-2009, 03:45 PM
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Assuming you're a US citizen, your foreign marriage is not recognized by the US unless you file some paperwork showing that you got married. For foreigners the paperwork is their passport, basically.

A marriage which is not recognized by the government of the country where you got married (for example, in Spain it is possible to get a religious marriage with no civil validity) will not be recognized by the US, as you won't be able to get a legally-binding marriage certificate. I think a same-sex marriage will not be recognized either (but then, in Spain at least an American can't enter a same-sex marriage, due to SSM not existing at the federal level in the US).

So even before we get into whether it counts for taxes or not, being recognized as married requires meeting certain conditions and informing your embassy or consulate.


niblet_head, I've never been a "resident alien" in the "green card" sense, but I've been one for tax purposes for five years (meaning I had to file taxes with IRS). It's one of those terms where you need to specify more than people usually do.
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Last edited by Nava; 08-18-2009 at 03:47 PM.
#13
Old 08-18-2009, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by niblet_head View Post
Is this a tax law thing? Because you certainly do not automatically qualify as a resident alien by simply living here for 183 days.
Residence for tax purposes and residence for immigration purposes are two different things. As far as I understand, you are resident for tax purposes by being in the U.S. for 183 days or more during the tax year. That does not affect your immigration status, and you could be present on any kind of visa, or with a green card (permanent residence card). On the other hand, a person on a green card will not be resident for tax purposes if they spend 183 days or more of the tax year outside the U.S. (though doing that might endanger their permanent residence status).

Last edited by Giles; 08-18-2009 at 04:02 PM.
#14
Old 08-18-2009, 04:20 PM
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That's what I figured, but I don't know tax law like I know immigration law. (Sidenote, most people are shocked to realize that an undocumented alien is required to file taxes. The IRS - at least when I was working in the immigration field - doesn't give a crap if you legally earned the money, it just wants its share!)
#15
Old 08-18-2009, 04:23 PM
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Oh, and on the topic of the OP, I once had a Mexican client who was under the common, but mistaken, belief that once he crossed the border, his Mexican marriage was no longer valid.

Uh, no.

Imagine how fun THAT conversation was - with him and his US citizen wife - to have to tell them a) no, you're still married to your first wife, which means b) you're NOT legally married to your US citizen wife, and c) before we can proceed you have to get divorced in Mexico and finally, d) you just put yourself in serious jeopardy and it might not be a good idea to file your app at all since you've been in the US illegally for more than a year plus you committed bigamy!
#16
Old 08-18-2009, 04:24 PM
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So what happens if a man from a place where polygamy is legal comes to the US with his four legal wives? Are three of them not married here? Are any of them married? Just the first one?
#17
Old 08-18-2009, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdwardLost View Post
Interesting question. Could a man visiting the US with his young bride be arrested for statutory rape?
IANAL, but no. Statutory rape requires that the parties not be married to eachother (many US states have lower marriagable ages than ages of consent). I know for a fact that this is the law on Pennsylvannia (I served on a jury in a statutory rape case). I think any foreign marriage would be recognized as long as it was; valid where celebrated; not bigamous, and the spouses were not of the same sex.
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#18
Old 08-18-2009, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by niblet_head View Post
Is this a tax law thing? Because you certainly do not automatically qualify as a resident alien by simply living here for 183 days.
Yes, it's a tax thing, but it pops up in immigration cases now and again. For example, I had a married couple with the wife a US citizen living in the US, but her Canadian husband hadn't managed to get through immigrant visa processing to come to the U.S. by the time taxes were due. We had to write a long, messy explanation of why they had filed taxes as "Married Filing Separately" so that there was no confusion about the validity of their marriage.

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#19
Old 08-18-2009, 07:04 PM
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But what if you marry in another country, and don't do anything to have it recognized here, then you marry here...is it still bigamy? Does it matter on the country? E.g., the Mexico example?
#20
Old 08-18-2009, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by EdwardLost View Post
Interesting question. Could a man visiting the US with his young bride be arrested for statutory rape?
No.
In fact, a US man can marry a young bride (under the statutory age limit) in many of the US states, provided he gets parental consent.
#21
Old 08-18-2009, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
So what happens if a man from a place where polygamy is legal comes to the US with his four legal wives? Are three of them not married here? Are any of them married? Just the first one?
What does it matter? Generally, when they are visiting here, they aren't doing anything involving the legal system where marital status comes into relevance.

It happens a whole lot here in Minnesota, down at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Arabs come for treatment, and bring a whole bunch of wives with, sometimes renting a whole floor of a hotel. The hospital only recognizes one (usually the 'senior wife') as legal next of kin, authorized to make medical decisions*. They just ignore the others, legally -- they are family members for visitation, etc., but have no legal recognition. Frankly, their legal status doesn't come up much.


*In practice, due to Muslim disrespect for women, it's quite common for Arabs to bring a male relative with, and give them the medical power of attorney.
#22
Old 08-18-2009, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by drhess View Post
But what if you marry in another country, and don't do anything to have it recognized here, then you marry here...is it still bigamy? Does it matter on the country? E.g., the Mexico example?
As a rule, if you marry A in Country X in a ceremony which is valid by the laws of Country X, then the marriage is recognised by the laws of the US states. This would not be so if the relationship was not capable of being a marriage e.g. its polygamous, its a same-sex marriage. It makes no difference whether you were in country X temporarily or indefinitely, or indeed legally or illegally.

If you then come back to the US, do nothing about registering or recording your marriage to B for tax, immigration or other purposes, but also do nothing about getting a divorce from A, and them marry B while A is still alive, yes, its bigamy. Youre married to A, and you go through a purported ceremony of marriage with B; thats pretty much the classic definition of bigamy.
#23
Old 08-18-2009, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by alphaboi867 View Post
IANAL, but no. Statutory rape requires that the parties not be married to eachother (many US states have lower marriagable ages than ages of consent). I know for a fact that this is the law on Pennsylvannia (I served on a jury in a statutory rape case). I think any foreign marriage would be recognized as long as it was; valid where celebrated; not bigamous, and the spouses were not of the same sex.
Here's the fly in the ointment... could the young bride complain of spousal rape? If she was forced into marriage, and then forced into intercourse with the man... just saying...
#24
Old 08-19-2009, 01:32 AM
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Depends on the local law, but in a jurisdiction which recognises spousal rape as a crime, the issue is not whether the spouse consented to the marriage, but consented to the sexual intercourse.

Thus an "underage bride" can complain of spousal rape. But the fact that she is underage is not relevant; whatever her age, if she did not consent to sexual intercourse, she has been raped.
#25
Old 08-19-2009, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
No.
In fact, a US man can marry a young bride (under the statutory age limit) in many of the US states, provided he gets parental consent.
The scenario I was thinking of was that the couple's marriage be legit in their own country but not recognized in the US (the same scenario, I think, as in the OP). For instance if a man in Backwardistan legally married a ten-year-old girl there, and had sex with her in the US, could he be convicted of statutory rape? No? What if they both later became US citizens? What if they were both US citizens who traveled there to get married? What if the bride was 17 (legal to be married in that state) but she was the man's 2nd wife?
#26
Old 08-19-2009, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by UDS View Post
Depends on the local law, but in a jurisdiction which recognises spousal rape as a crime, the issue is not whether the spouse consented to the marriage, but consented to the sexual intercourse.

Thus an "underage bride" can complain of spousal rape. But the fact that she is underage is not relevant; whatever her age, if she did not consent to sexual intercourse, she has been raped.
I guess what I was thinking, (and it wasn't phrased this way), but the guy could really be shooting himself in the foot by bringing his underage bride here (or to any country with spousal rape laws). My guess would be that a country that allows men to marry 12 year olds, doesn't have particularly stringent rape laws, especially concerning spousal rape. So he marries her in that country, brings her here, forces sex on her (like he usually does), but now she can run off and have the law on her side.
#27
Old 08-19-2009, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdwardLost View Post
The scenario I was thinking of was that the couple's marriage be legit in their own country but not recognized in the US (the same scenario, I think, as in the OP). For instance if a man in Backwardistan legally married a ten-year-old girl there, and had sex with her in the US, could he be convicted of statutory rape? No? What if they both later became US citizens? What if they were both US citizens who traveled there to get married? What if the bride was 17 (legal to be married in that state) but she was the man's 2nd wife?
Standard question in conflict of laws. The answer is more political than legal. Usually courts give comity to the laws and decisions of other juridictions unless they go against public policy of the own juridiction. Not merely against the law. So on the issue marriage if a court is convinced that the marriage is has been validly contracted in another juridiction they will allow it. Here however public policy seems to dictate against allowing such a marriage to continue.
#28
Old 08-19-2009, 10:33 AM
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One example of a marriage that would not be recognised in the US would be a same-sex marriage performed in Canada. There are no residency requirements in Canada, so two Americans could come here and get married, but whether or not it is recognised down south will depend on the law of the state they live in. It won't be recognised by the federal government, as far as I can tell.
#29
Old 04-29-2014, 10:12 AM
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Immigration Visa

I got married overseas and did not yet complete my divorce from the non us wife and came to the US and got married to a US citizen and got the green card and later the US citizen.

The divorce paper came after four years from the non us wife and later(after 7 years) divorced my us citizen wife and got married third time to a non us wife overseas .... would my child from my first wife be eligible for immigration visa ??? Note that this was over 10 years ago.
#30
Old 04-29-2014, 10:18 AM
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Not sure about the legality of the situation, but it would probably make a pretty epic situation comedy...
#31
Old 04-29-2014, 10:34 AM
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Nvmd

Last edited by Saint Cad; 04-29-2014 at 10:36 AM.
#32
Old 04-29-2014, 11:42 AM
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Is the child still a minor? Are you the child's legal guardian? Are you currently a US citizen?
#33
Old 04-29-2014, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eva Luna View Post
Yes, it's a tax thing, but it pops up in immigration cases now and again. For example, I had a married couple with the wife a US citizen living in the US, but her Canadian husband hadn't managed to get through immigrant visa processing to come to the U.S. by the time taxes were due. We had to write a long, messy explanation of why they had filed taxes as "Married Filing Separately" so that there was no confusion about the validity of their marriage.

Eva Luna, Immigration Paralegal
Yikes! I have been filing my US taxes as single. I thought I was required to (since the US did not recognize my foreign same-sex marriage at the outset, and my spouse has no ties to the USA). Now that they recognize SSM, I guess I was supposed to change status, and probably file back taxes for the years for which they changed their minds. Good thing this is all so simple...

In answer to the OP, if you're in a foreign same-sex marriage, you are sometimes married and sometimes not depending where you are, but that's obviously not the intent of your question.
#34
Old 04-29-2014, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Is the child still a minor? Are you the child's legal guardian? Are you currently a US citizen?
Yes he is a minor, I am the child's legal guardian and yes I'M currently a US citizen.
#35
Old 04-29-2014, 01:03 PM
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Then in my non-professional opinion the child is eligible for a visa and for a green card.
#36
Old 04-29-2014, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
Yikes! I have been filing my US taxes as single. I thought I was required to (since the US did not recognize my foreign same-sex marriage at the outset, and my spouse has no ties to the USA). Now that they recognize SSM, I guess I was supposed to change status, and probably file back taxes for the years for which they changed their minds. Good thing this is all so simple...
I think the nitty gritty is still being hashed out for past years, but here's an IRS FAQ. Enjoy!
#37
Old 04-30-2014, 12:15 AM
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Am I reading the question correctly that GrassHoper was not legally divorced from his first wife when he married his US citizen wife?
#38
Old 04-30-2014, 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
I guess what I was thinking, (and it wasn't phrased this way), but the guy could really be shooting himself in the foot by bringing his underage bride here (or to any country with spousal rape laws). My guess would be that a country that allows men to marry 12 year olds, doesn't have particularly stringent rape laws, especially concerning spousal rape. So he marries her in that country, brings her here, forces sex on her (like he usually does), but now she can run off and have the law on her side.
What an icky scenario. BUT the "like he usually does" is questionable. IANAL, but in the US a 12 year old could enthusiastically participate in coitus, but it still wouldn't be consensual because 12 year olds can not legally consent = therefore it is statutory rape. However, if a 12 year old is legally permitted to marry with parental consent, she is no longer legally a child, but is emancipated AFAIK. So while she could be the victim of spousal rape (no still means no) not every sexual contact with her husband would be intrinsically rape.

And now I need a shower. In bleach. Eww.
#39
Old 04-30-2014, 03:37 AM
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Am I reading the question correctly that GrassHoper was not legally divorced from his first wife when he married his US citizen wife?
I'm reading the same.
#40
Old 04-30-2014, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Giles View Post
As far as I understand, you are resident for tax purposes by being in the U.S. for 183 days or more during the tax year. That does not affect your immigration status, and you could be present on any kind of visa, or with a green card (permanent residence card).
Or you could even be undocumented. The IRS just uses a TIN instead of a SSN, and doesn't care if the person is here legally or not. ("That's not my department!") Many (maybe most?) undocumented workers pay payroll tax.

Last edited by guizot; 04-30-2014 at 04:01 AM.
#41
Old 04-30-2014, 01:35 PM
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I did divorced her but the divorce papers were not finalized cause I was not with here to make sure that everything was done right
#42
Old 04-30-2014, 02:04 PM
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One of my marriages took place in Canada, and was dissolved in an American divorce court, and nobody paid the slightest bit of attention to the fact that it was a Canadian marriage.

You will not be deemed to be married in any jurisdiction, unless A) you claim to be married, such as for some benefit, or B) your spouse claims that you are married to him/her, also for some perceived benefit, or C) some third party declares that you are/were married, with some advantage in mind . In other words, if no party declares the existence of a marriage, it can be considered null and void as a practical matter. If you say your are not, the burden is on someone else to prove that you are.

More specific to the OP, any formal/legal marriage anywhere is generally considered to be valid and binding by every jurisdiction, unless there is some glaring discrepancy between the general laws of marriage in the two countries, and the marriage was performed under circumstances in a first country which would not be considered legal in the second country. Such as child bride, same sex, farmyard animal, polygamy, etc. and even then, you might have the burden of proving the marriages invalidity.

Last edited by jtur88; 04-30-2014 at 02:08 PM.
#43
Old 04-30-2014, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Carol the Impaler View Post
Am I reading the question correctly that GrassHoper was not legally divorced from his first wife when he married his US citizen wife?
I did divorce her but divorce papers were not finalized cause I was not living with her to make sure that everything was done right, and I did get everything done as soon as I found that the divorce was not finalized by going oversees and complete the paper work. This was done more than 15 years ago.
#44
Old 04-30-2014, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by GrassHoper View Post
I did divorce her but divorce papers were not finalized cause I was not living with her to make sure that everything was done right, and I did get everything done as soon as I found that the divorce was not finalized by going oversees and complete the paper work. This was done more than 15 years ago.
Your marital status is a totally different question from your ability to obtain legal immigration status for your child. Whether or not you were married to the child's mother your child is still your child. Which issue are you worried about?
#45
Old 04-30-2014, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Eva Luna View Post
Your marital status is a totally different question from your ability to obtain legal immigration status for your child. Whether or not you were married to the child's mother your child is still your child. Which issue are you worried about?
I am asking about the ability to obtain legal immigration status for your child.
#46
Old 04-30-2014, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by GrassHoper View Post
I am asking about the ability to obtain legal immigration status for your child.
Then it sounds like you may have a messy situation on your hands, because if I'm understanding your sequence of events correctly, your divorce from your non-U.S. Citizen wife was not final at the time you married your U.S. Citizen wife, through whom you got the green card. So the green card possibly shouldn't have been approved in the first case.

If that's true, I seriously suggest consulting with an experienced immigration attorney who is familiar with family law in the state where you married your U.S. Citizen wife. For example, in Illinois your Illinois marriage would be valid as of the date your foreign divorce was final, but that's not true everywhere.

My firm had a case like this recently, but the client had't gotten her green card based on marriage, so the incomplete foreign divorce wasn't an issue for her. But it may well be for you.
Eva Luna, Immigration Paralegal
#47
Old 04-30-2014, 03:10 PM
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He doesn't have a green card anymore; he's now a citizen himself.
#48
Old 04-30-2014, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Eva Luna View Post
Then it sounds like you may have a messy situation on your hands, because if I'm understanding your sequence of events correctly, your divorce from your non-U.S. Citizen wife was not final at the time you married your U.S. Citizen wife, through whom you got the green card. So the green card possibly shouldn't have been approved in the first case.

If that's true, I seriously suggest consulting with an experienced immigration attorney who is familiar with family law in the state where you married your U.S. Citizen wife. For example, in Illinois your Illinois marriage would be valid as of the date your foreign divorce was final, but that's not true everywhere.

My firm had a case like this recently, but the client had't gotten her green card based on marriage, so the incomplete foreign divorce wasn't an issue for her. But it may well be for you.
Eva Luna, Immigration Paralegal
I am a US citizen now... would this be an issue or they might take the citizen from me
#49
Old 04-30-2014, 03:24 PM
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I am a US citizen now... would this be an issue or they might take the citizen from me
It's possible, if they figure out the actual sequence of events. But OTOH they may never notice. But don't you want to know what your actual situation is?

They should have picked up on it when you got your green card, because you should have been required to submit a copy of your final foreign divorce decree if you declared you'd been married before. (In the case of my client, she discovered that the attorney in her home country who was supposed to finalize the divorce didn't do so until years after he told her he had.) Sometimes USCIS doesn't pick up on these things when they should, but then they catch their mistake later.
#50
Old 04-30-2014, 04:38 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2014
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Originally Posted by Eva Luna View Post
It's possible, if they figure out the actual sequence of events. But OTOH they may never notice. But don't you want to know what your actual situation is?

They should have picked up on it when you got your green card, because you should have been required to submit a copy of your final foreign divorce decree if you declared you'd been married before. (In the case of my client, she discovered that the attorney in her home country who was supposed to finalize the divorce didn't do so until years after he told her he had.) Sometimes USCIS doesn't pick up on these things when they should, but then they catch their mistake later.
Even if this happen long time ago (more than10 years).

What should I do. I know I missed up but need to get it solved.
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