If you received your green card by marrying a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, a divorce can put your legal status in jeopardy. According to immigration laws, an immigrant who is involved in a real marriage can obtain a green card. However, a divorce could cast doubt on whether the marriage was legitimate in the first place. Fortunately, a divorce doesn’t mean the end of your permanent residency or U.S. citizenship efforts, depending on which part of the application process you are currently in.
If Your Visa Petition Was Approved
Even if your Form I-130 visa petition was approved, it won’t help your immigration efforts after a divorce. The visa petition only begins the immigration process, so you don’t have any rights to stay in the United States. Once your marriage ends at this stage, there go any hopes of getting your green card or immigrant visa.
If Permanent Residence Was Approved
If you were already married for two years or more at the time your green card was approved, you automatically become a permanent resident. Immigration authorities will not take another look at your application after your divorce unless you later apply for U.S. citizenship.
If Conditional Residence Was Approved
If you apply for a green card and your marriage is less than two years old at the date your green card is approved, you will receive conditional residence. However, you will face some challenges if you file for a divorce at this phase of the immigration process.
After two years of your approval date and after you submit Form I-751, USCIS will review your case. Form I-751 is a request to remove conditional residence status and be approved for permanent residence. Yet, this form is often filed as a joint petition, which is signed by the couple.
In the event of a divorce, you need to submit the petition on your own and request a waiver of the joint-filing condition. The waiver requires convincing evidence that the marriage began as legitimate, despite the way it ended.
Common types of evidence consist of the types of documents you have previously sent to USCIS, such as:
- Joint bank and credit card statements
- Mortgage and rental agreements which contain you and your spouse’s names
- Birth certificates of children you share with your spouse
- Statements from marriage counselors and therapists
Remember, do not send immigration officials the same documents from prior USCIS reviews. Only use recent documents.
If You Apply for U.S. Citizenship
As we mentioned before, USCIS will review your immigration status and marriage information when you apply for U.S. citizenship. Since divorce is generally considered a sign of fraudulence, immigration authorities will require you to show evidence that your marriage was valid.
You should have plenty of documents by now, but only use the most recent pieces of evidence. If you cannot come up with clear, sufficient evidence, not only may USICS deny your citizenship, but you may be deported from the country.
At Kanu & Associates, P.C., our Phoenix immigration attorney can conduct a personalized evaluation of your situation to determine how your divorce will affect your immigration status. Additionally, we can help you file any applications or waiver requests.
For more information about our legal services, contact us and schedule a consultation today.