How Does Divorce Affect My Spouse Before & After Decision on Asylum?
Many persons obtain asylum based on family relationship. The person who fears significant harm is the principal applicant (PA). However, the spouse and the children under 21 years of age obtain asylum as derivative beneficiaries. This explains how divorce affects asylum.
Divorce Before the Interview and the DecisionIf there is a divorce before the asylum decision is issued, the PA will obtain asylum, but not the spouse. This is also true if Immigration learns of the divorce after the asylum interview, but before the decision.
Divorce After the DecisionOnce the decision is issued, either by an Immigration Judge or an Immigration Officer, all the members of the family are asylees. The divorce does not change this. One year after the spouse obtained asylum, s/he can apply for residency even if s/he is no longer married to the PA.
What Options for Divorcing Spouse?Divorce is not an overnight process. If a divorce has begun, the spouse should speak to an immigration lawyer immediately. S/he might be able to file for asylum in her/his own right. Additionally, based on the number of days in unlawful presence, the spouse might also be able to obtain a visa.