When Family Law Issues Intersect with Immigration Law
It may come as no surprise that many natural-born citizens of the United States take their access to the American legal system for granted. This is easy to demonstrate when comparing the legal experiences of citizens and non-citizens side by side. Immigrants and non-immigrants who need family law services in King County or Snohomish County often have additional immigration laws complicating their cases, which can heavily influence what course of action they can take when seeking resolution.
At ZafiroLaw, our team of family and immigration law attorneys truly empathizes with non-citizens in these situations. Whether you are a Seattle area resident trying to get married, preventing a spouse from moving abroad with your children, or are born in the U.S. to undocumented parents, it is critical to understand how immigration laws can impact your family court case. As immigrants who have first-hand experience navigating similarly sensitive issues, we have the extensive knowledge and training you need to resolve your family’s legal issue.
Situations Where Immigration and Family Law Intersect
To better understand how immigration law intersects with family law, it is important to have a grasp of the many types of non-citizen statuses available in the United States. These classifications often have different protections and rights under Washington family laws and federal immigration requirements.
Immigrant or Lawful Permanent Resident
This is a foreign individual who has a Green Card.
One who has been granted authorization to reside in the United States temporarily.
This status involves a foreign national overstaying the amount of time allowed in the United States. They are subject to visa cancellation, removal, and deportation proceedings.
Refugee or Asylee
Individuals granted this status reside in the United States because of persecution they faced in their home country.
This is a foreign individual who is in the United States without any form of authorization.
As you can see, if you or a family member fall under any of the above classifications of immigrants, things can get very complicated. To better illustrate the unique challenges non-citizens face when these two areas of law intersect, reference the below examples for some insight:
- A citizen in Bellevue, Washington, meets a foreign national who has lived in the United States since being a teenager. They have a child together, but the non-citizen parent wishes to return to their home country a few years later with their child. What rights does the U.S. citizen parent have, and can the foreign parent legally take the child overseas with her?
- A child born in the United States to undocumented parents needs to know what her citizenship status is and how to help her parents become U.S. citizens. She also has an older brother who came to America as a child but was born in Mexico. What options does he have to become a citizen?
- An immigrant came to the United States to be with her fiancé, but he has been threatening to have her deported if she reports the domestic violence he commits against her. If she seeks help, will she be deported?
- A married couple consisting of one non-citizen and one U.S. citizen has decided to divorce. They have two children together. One parent plans to go abroad and let the children remain in Seattle with their former spouse. Does this parent have support obligations? Which country will enforce the final divorce order?
- Two foreign nationals moved to the United States and completed the naturalization process. They marry and have children, but one takes the children and returns to their home country without the other parent’s permission. Can the children be brought back to the United States?
- A foreign national marries a U.S. citizen in Lake Forest Park to get permanent residency and has no intention of being in a relationship with their spouse. What recourse does the U.S. citizen spouse have to protect their assets and property?
These scenarios are just a few of countless examples that citizens and non-citizens alike face when immigration and family law intersect. Navigating these experiences on your own is not only overwhelming but often results in mistakes being made and opportunities for a quick resolution missed. Fortunately, there are numerous tools available to navigate these issues, including status exceptions, bonds, visas, and specialized legal services like those provided by ZafiroLaw.
How ZafiroLaw Can Help
As immigrants ourselves, we at ZafiroLaw have a genuine appreciation for how family legal matters can be directly impacted by citizenship status. Whether you are undocumented, have received permanent lawful resident status, or only planned to be in the United States temporarily our Seattle family-based immigration attorneys are an invaluable resource of experience and knowledge of state and federal law. To schedule your consultation and learn more about what rights and protections you have, please call us at 206-547-9906 or contact us today!