My wife divorced through power of attorney in Colombia from her American husband while living with me in Florida for more than 6 months. Right after the divorce became valid in Colombia we married in Florida and then left the country to apply for her I-130.
We now received a letter from USCIS stating that the Colombian divorce is not valid for US immigration purposes because neither she nor her ex husband were residing in Colombia.
Consequently our marriage is also not valid what takes the grounds for the I-130 application.
We are filing in Frankfurt, Germany as I am German and US citizen.
What are our options? Is there a way to validate the Colombian divorce? Or does she have to get divorced again in Florida or California (residence of ex-husband)?
Thank you very much for your help
Generally speaking, in order to determine whether a foreign divorce is valid for immigration purposes, USCIS applies the law of the state where the divorce is being used to support an immigration benefit. In this case, the State of Florida. Under Florida law, one party to the divorce must have been residing in the state for at least 6 months prior to the filing of the divorce petition.
Applying this law to the Colombian divorce, your wife was not residing in Colombia at the time of the divorce (according to your facts). She cannot use a proxy to satisfy this requirement. Thus, under USCIS' interpretation, the divorce is not recognizable. Essentially, your wife received the equivalent of a "mail order" divorce in the eyes of USCIS. This is a common problem for aliens who think they need to get a divorce from the country where the marriage occurred when they have not resided there for many years. Instead, they should have filed in the state in which they were residing.
That being said, there are some exceptions to this general rule. You should consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can review the facts surrounding your wife's divorce and your marriage along with the USCIS decision and recommend how you should proceed.
Jeffrey A. Devore, Esq.
Board Certified Immigration Attorney
Devore Law Group, P.A.
2925 PGA Blvd., Suite 204
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
Telephone: (561) 478-5353
Facsimile: (561) 478-2144
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