If you got a green card from marrying a U.S. citizen or permanent resident but you are interested in filing for a divorce, you may be wondering what will happen to your immigration status. Depending on certain circumstances, it is possible your ability to remain in the United States could be in jeopardy. Let’s look at how divorce affects each phase of the application process.
Divorce After Filing Your Visa Petition
If you only filed a visa petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a divorce means the end of your attempt to obtain a green card. Waiting for approval doesn’t come with rights or protections to be admitted or remain in the United States.
Divorce After Getting Approved for Conditional Residence
When an immigrant marries a U.S. citizen or permanent residency, he/she can apply for conditional residence, which is a two-year green card which is given to spouse once his/her visa petition has been approved. If an immigrant spouse divorces after obtaining conditional residence, it could be challenging to get approved for permanent residence.
After two years from the date of your approval for conditional residence, you can submit Form I-751 for permanent residence. However, this form is considered a joint petition, which both spouses must sign.
In the event of a divorce, you must submit the application on your own and ask USCIS to waive the joint filing requirement. For this to happen, you must provide convincing evidence that the marriage started off as authentic, despite ending in divorce.
Common examples of evidence include copies mortgage and rental agreements, children’s birth certificates, bank and credit card statements, or life insurance shared by both spouses. Remember, you cannot use the same type of evidence you previously submitted to USCIS. The more recent the documents, the better your chances.
Divorce After Getting Approved for Permanent Residence
If you have successfully applied for a green card, you do not need to worry about losing your immigration status. Keep in mind, this only applies to permanent residents, not those with conditional residence.
Applying for U.S. Citizenship After Divorce
If you want to become a U.S. citizen, USCIS will get another opportunity to review your immigration file and marriage information. If immigration officials determine that you obtained your green card through fraudulent means, not only will you lose the ability to become a U.S. citizen, you could also get deported.
However, you should have an ample amount of documentation to prove the legitimacy of your previous marriage. Again, the more recent the evidence, the more convinced USCIS will be.