In the last few weeks an increasing amount of Pinoy couples have sought my help after their recent interviews at the Immigration Service went terribly wrong. Each couple had filed an application for adjustment of status based upon marriage to a U.S. citizen. In each case their previous attorney convinced them that their applications were routine and that the interviews should be a "no brainer" in and out with little problems.
Well, the reason these folks came to see me was a big problem did develop, a problem that no one anticipated including the attorney. The reason for the problem was that at least one spouse from each couple had obtained a divorce from Las Vegas, which in of itself seems pretty harmless. However, the Immigration Service refused in each instance to accept the decision of a State Superior Court Judge to grant dissolution.
Not only did the Immigration Service ignore the findings of the Judge they took it a step further by requesting the applicants prove that he or she did in fact satisfy the requirements of the Nevada divorce statutes including the requirement of residency.
Each couple was told that if they failed to satisfy there burden of proving a valid Nevada divorce the Immigration Service would not recognized their current marriage as valid and therefore they would not at this time be allowed to pursue their green card.
They were given a choice to either withdraw their applications, obtain a new divorce (even though they were already legally divorced) remarry and then re-file a new application or in the alternative they were asked to provide documentation that their divorce complied with Nevada State law. There was an emphasis on the six-week residency requirement and on intent to make Las Vegas the applicant's home. The Immigration Service was asking them to prove their thoughts.
In one instance the applicant was told that, "merely showing us you lived there for six weeks or longer is not enough. You have to show us your intent was to stay there and live." As absurd as this sounds it is true.
This strange new Los Angeles tactic is no fluke, this was confirmed to me by a conversation I had with a Family Law attorney in Las Vegas who stated to me that prior to a few months ago he never received requests for proof of Nevada residency. He said his office is now inundated with such. This evaluation of Las Vegas divorces is a deliberate, thought-out, possibly illegal new twist in the emigrant experience.
It is a Los Angeles District policy and for those who are considering a divorce in Las Vegas or who have already obtained a divorce there the implications are severe. It does appear that the main emphasis is on the residency requirement and there are a few things that an applicant should consider prior to seeking a Las Vegas divorce.
The first thing to consider is that there are requirements that must be complied with for a Nevada divorce. Speed is a nice bonus, but realize that although the process is faster then California there are requirements that you must satisfy, including residency of at least six weeks. If you are told by any one, including an attorney, that this requirement can be ignored you should look elsewhere.
In addition the Immigration Service is paying special attention to one of the forms that you must file when seeking residency. This biographical page lists your address over the last five years. Through either law firm sloppiness or applicant oversight in each instance the before-mentioned applicants failed to list Las Vegas as a former residence. This gives the Immigration Service greater suspicion over the validity of your divorce. If the address is listed on the biographical the Immigration Service will follow up to verify your presence in that address. Merely listing an address if untrue will result in greater problems.
As you can see the latest from the Immigration Service is a whopper. Those who are seeking a divorce or have obtained a divorce in Las Vegas are best served by first consulting with a reputable attorney. His or her advice will keep you out of harms way as the road to residency becomes ever more dangerous.