The Law Office of
Mark Kinzler, P.C.

Woman adopted while a minor must leave the U.S.

As a state that's home to many foreign-born individuals, Texas has its share of immigration news. However, a recent case in Kansas may be of vital importance and demonstrate the strictness of federal immigration laws. In the case, a South Korean-born woman must leave the United States despite being adopted during the period of her minority.

The parents brought the girl to the U.S. when she was 15. Though they planned to adopt her, the father was deployed overseas for two years in Afghanistan and his attorney assured him the adoption could be put off. Just over two years later, it was finalized. She became the adopted child and pursuant to Kansas law, a new birth certificate was created.

However, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services saw the adoption differently as far as her immigration status is concerned. Though an immigrant minor can obtain citizenship, the adoption must be finalized prior to reaching the age of 16.

In ruling against the woman, the federal court in Kansas determined that the immigration statute in question is clear, and given its plain meaning, it preempts state law. The statute does not stay the deadline in this case for a serviceman assigned overseas. The court did not overturn the adoption, so she is still the daughter of her adoptive parents. However, her citizenship remains unaffected by the adoption. It was determined that she must leave the country upon graduating from college.

At times, people can enter into a situation where different laws are in play. If there is a federal law that must be complied with, the state law proceeding might not be sufficient. This is why having legal assistance can be important.

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