Divorce and Immigration Status

Mar 5, 2024 | Immigration

Divorce is a challenging life event. However, divorce and immigration status dependent on your marriage to a U.S. citizen could be especially difficult. Your immigration status after a divorce will depend on the current stage of your immigration process. That’s why it is important to understand how a divorce can impact your immigration status.

Divorce Before Green Card

If you and your U.S. citizen spouse have not filed for a marriage based green card then your status will remain the same status you had when entered the U.S. if it is still valid (i.e., if you entered the U.S. on a visitor visa, work visa, or some other temporary visa).

Married Less Than Two Years

If your immigration status is based on being married to a U.S. citizen for less than two years you are considered a conditional permanent resident. Conditional permanent resident status is limited to two years. In order to become a permanent resident and receive a 10-year green card, you must file a Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. You must file this petition within the 90-day period before the date the conditional green card expires.

Normally, both you and your U.S. citizen spouse file this petition together and include proof that your marriage is still ongoing. If your marriage ends during the initial 2 -year conditional period, you could lose your immigration status. However, in certain situations you could file a waiver of the joint filing requirement for permanent residence if you meet one of the following grounds, including:

  • You married in “good faith” and intended to live a life together, but marriage was terminated through divorce or annulment
  • You would experience extreme hardship if you were removed from the U.S.
  • You were subject to physical or emotional abuse by your U.S. citizen spouse

In each case you must provide evidence demonstrating the circumstances surrounding the end of the relationship.

Divorce After Two Years Possessing Green Card

If you receive permanent residency or a 10-year green card, a divorce should not affect your legal status. However, a divorce may extend the time required for applying for U.S. citizenship. If the marriage lasted less than 3 years prior to applying for citizenship you will have to wait at least five years before you can start the process instead of 3 years if you were still married.

There are also certain applications available for spouses of U.S.Citizens who were abused during the marriage based on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Additionally, there are several applications in removal proceedings and waivers which require a U.S. Citizen spouse as a qualifying relative for the application. Divorce could seriously affect one’s eligibility for these applications as well.

How Siri & Glimstad Can Help During Divorce and Immigration

If you are facing a divorce and you are not a U.S. citizen, it is imperative that you speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney about your options.

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