Can an illegal immigrant get a divorce from a US citizen?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can an illegal immigrant get a divorce from a US citizen?

A friend of mine came to the US on a student visa that has now expired. While in the states, he got married to a US citizen, however he and his wife never got around to undergoing the necessary steps for him to become a legal citizen. His wife has now moved out of state and he has been unable to contact her for over 6 months. He has met a young lady who he is truly in love with who he wants to

marry. Can he divorce his estranged wife without being deported? Also, now that his student visa is expired, can he get married to his current girlfriend legally once his divorce is final?

Asked on September 13, 2016 under Immigration Law, Illinois


SB Member California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, he can get divorced but he would need to speak with a family law attorney in his state to undertstand the proper steps that need to be taken in order to do it correctly and so as to allow him to remarry.  He will be able to get legally married to his current girlfriend once he is legally divorced, which may take a few months as these things vary from state to state.  Assuming the new girlfriend is a US citizen, she will be able to also petition for his permanent residence once they are legally  married.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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