Immigration and Family Law

At the Intersection of Immigration and Family Law

Given the increasing incidence in our practice of cases involving international couples, we took note yesterday when the United States Supreme Court appeared at the intersection of immigration and family law. At least in the case of Fauzia Din, announced yesterday by Justice Scalia, the Court gave the right of way at that intersection to the government, upholding the denial of a Visa to her husband, and told Ms. Din that her petition challenging the denial of an immigrant Visa for her foreign national husband had hit a dead end.

With another decision regarding gay marriage expected later this month, the court, in this 5-4 ruling, declined to declare that marriage is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. Three justices agreed that, even if marriage itself were a fundamental right, the “right to marry cases cannot be expanded to include the right to live in the United States with an alien spouse.” Two more justices agreed that, at least in this case, they were not called-upon to decide if marriage is a right protected by the Constitution.

In the Din case, the alien spouse had worked as a clerk in the Afghan government during the time when that government was controlled by the Taliban. The State Department made no explanation for denying the Visa request, other than a general reference to the law giving the Department broad discretion to deny Visas based on terrorist activities.

There is a long history of legal precedent supporting the government’s right to deny Visas without explanation to the immigrant applicant. Then too, allowing foreign national spouses of US citizens to immigrate also has long and strong historical precedent. In this case, Fauzia Din asserted that her “constitution right to marry” was being infringed without just cause, but the majority of the Court saw it differently. The four justices in the minority did find that Ms. Din’s right to marry was “the kind of liberty interest” that deserved protection under the Constitution, and it will be interesting to see if and how the court returns to that issue later this month.

For now, as the congestion at the intersection of immigration law and family law increases, for those with issues and interests moving along both avenues, it is important to work with attorneys who can safeguard passage through their convergence.

To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys or for further information, call us at LaMonaca Law, at (610) 892-3877


About the author

About Lawrence Welsh

A funny thing happened to Larry (Lawrence C. Welsh) on the way to his professional career in the practice of law. After graduating from college and before entering law school, he took an extended tour through the hospitality industry, working his way through both the service and business sides of hotels, restaurants and resorts in six states and the District of Columbia. Taking the business acumen and the ever-watchful attention to detail so well-honed during that experience into his lifelong passion to practice law has led Larry to his position as Chief Legal Counsel and head of the firm’s Forensic Support Team. Before joining the firm, Larry worked in the public defender’s office, through which he added an array of advocacy skills and trial experience to his resume. Since joining the firm in 2003, Larry has handled a full range of family law issues, which he continues to do, while lending experience and direction to others in the firm, particularly where and when the resources of the Forensic Support Team are most appropriate. Larry is also licensed in New Jersey, and he leads the firm’s New Jersey team operations. Larry is a multi-year “Top Lawyer” honoree in Main Line Today magazine, and he has been named as an “Awesome/Top Attorney” for family law and divorce in Suburban Life Magazine. Larry is an active member of the bar associations and family law sections of Delaware County, Chester County, and the state of Pennsylvania.