Immigration Consequences of Divorce

So, you have previously received your Greencard via your US Citizen Spouse, but, things aren’t working out in your relationship….NOW WHAT?!?The question isn’t as difficult as it appears, and with the help of a qualified attorney, you may be able to receive permanent residency and sometimes even citizenship!

If you have obtained your greencard via your US Citizen spouse you will most likely receive what is called “Conditional Permanent Residency,” or a two-year greencard.  This means that when you first applied for permanent residency  you were married for less than two years.

Ninety (90) days before your initial greencard expires you will need to apply for a removal of condition.  This is where USCIS, also known as Immigration, will determine if you entered your marriage in good-faith.  The key word here is “entered.” You do not need to be currently married to your US Citizen spouse, in fact, you do not even need to be fully divorced from your US Citizen spouse either- for all those who are in complicated relationships.

Under normal circumstances of course you and your US Citizen spouse would jointly file for the I-751 (Removal of Condition), providing evidence of your marriage, i.e. tax returns, children’s birth certificates, proof of joint bank accounts, etc.  But things are not always “normal.”

If you have recently filed for a divorce, but the divorce is not finalized you are still eligible to apply for a permanent greencard, you will merely apply with a “waiver” of your US Spouse’s signature.  At this time you will indicate to Immigration that you entered the marriage in good faith, via the documents you provide as support of this claim, but due to irreconcilable differences, your marriage has broken and as a result you, or your spouse, has filed for a divorce.  If you provide enough information regarding the validity of your marriage, and show proof that you have filed for divorce, you should be able to receive an approval.

If you are separated from your US Citizen spouse, but still on good terms with them you have the option of filing the I-751 jointly or with a waiver.  Just understand that if you file your petition jointly and get called for an interview with immigration, your US Citizen spouse MUST attend the interview with you.

If you have a finalized divorce decree it’s the same process as above.  You will file for your I-751 petition with a waiver of your spouses signature;  at the time of filing you will need to provide evidence that you entered into the marriage in good faith, as well as a certified copy of the finalized divorce decree.  If the Immigration officer who reviews your case determines that enough evidence is provided you can obtain your permanent greencard, sometimes without even an interview!

Sometimes the situation is more complicated, for example:

what happens if you separate during the process (after the petition has been filed), or

you get a request for evidence requiring more documents, but you have no more joint documents,

you have been abused by your US Citizen spouse

the best thing to do when your situation gets complicated is to consult an experienced immigration attorney.  The last thing you want to do is have a denial on your case, as a denial on an I-751 leads to an automatic referral to an immigration judge/deportation proceedings.

If you have any further questions, feel free to call us:

Sungina J. Vachhani, Esq.
17918 Pioneer Boulevard, Suite 204
Artesia, California 90701
(562) 402-1677

[email protected]