A recent case decided by the Ninth Circuit examined the relationship between immigration law and divorce law. The Ninth Circuit began its review of a Nevada case by reviewing the Court’s ruling in a case named Park v. Barr that the Court had just ruled on a few months earlier. The prior case involved a woman who was in the United States even though she had overstayed her visa.
The woman, Woul Park, married Byung Gug Choi in Korea in 1988. Both spouses were Korean. Ms. Park entered American in 2003 on a B-2 tourist visa. She overstayed her visa. Ms. Park has lived in California since 2003. In 2009, the couple divorced under Koran law. After the divorce, Ms. Park married James Young Park – who is a US citizen. Ms. Park then filed and was granted legal permanent residency (LPR) based on the second marriage.
Ms. Park applied to become a naturalized citizen in 2014. That petition was denied because the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) determined that her divorce from Choi wasn’t valid under California law – which, in turn, invalidated her second marriage. USCIS based its finding that the divorce was invalid on California Family Code § 2091, which bars California from recognizing a foreign divorce if both spouses are domiciliaries of California.