Some people in Arizona who are waiting for a green card might wonder how divorce will affect their eligibility for one. For example, one woman, a U.S. citizen from the Philippines, had a 25-year-old unmarried son for whom she filed an immigrant petition in 2005. The son married in 2010.

A U.S. citizen’s unmarried adult child is classified as “First Preference”. If the adult child marries, the status is changed to “Third Preference”, which is for an adult child married to a U.S. citizen. There is a much longer wait time for someone classified as “Third Preference” compared to “First Preference”. As of May 2019, “First Preference” petitions from on or before May 15, 2007, were being processed. For “Third Preference” petitions, it was from October 8, 1996.

Since the mother applied in 2005, the son would be returned to “First Preference” status and would be immediately eligible as a green card applicant when his divorce was final as opposed to waiting approximately nine more years. It is necessary to present a valid divorce decree to get this change in preference.

U.S. immigration law is complex, and it is also undergoing a number of changes. This can make navigating the process daunting even with the assistance of friends or family members who have already gone through the same system. An attorney may be able to help whether a person is seeking asylum, trying to get a work-related visa, or hoping for permanent residency or citizenship. It is important to have the right documentation, fill out any forms correctly, and meet any deadlines, and an attorney may be able to assist. People who are in danger of deportation or whose loved ones are should not assume that the deportation is inevitable. An attorney may also be able to help in a deportation hearing.