Does Divorce Affect the Immigration Status of a Green Card Holder?

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If you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States and if you acquired that immigration status by getting married to a US citizen, your immigration status might be at risk in the event of a divorce. A foreign national who gets married to a US citizen will be granted a Green Card with conditions, valid for two years. Conditions on a Green Card may be removed by filing a petition ahead of your second wedding anniversary.

Related Article: Removal of Conditions On Marriage Green Card

Conditions are placed on the Green Card to ensure that the couple remains together at the end of the two years and that the marriage is bonafide. To remove those conditions and to get a Green Card valid for ten years, the conditional resident along with the US citizen spouse must apply, together. This may be difficult if the couple divorces before the end of the two years. However, this may not result in the removal of the conditional resident spouse from the United States, at the end of the conditional period, in certain circumstances.

There are certain exceptions to the joint filing requirement if the divorce was due to genuine reasons. According to US immigration laws, the conditional resident spouse may request a waiver by providing valid reasons. The spouse must prove that the marriage was genuine but the couple divorced through no fault on his or her part. To get a waiver, he or she must provide the required documentation to prove that their relationship was genuine after they were married.

It is mandatory to submit persuasive evidence, as the USCIS may consider that the marriage was not bonafide if the couple divorces before the end of the conditional period. Photographs of the couple along with relatives and friends, bank statements, rental agreements, letters, etc, may be provided to prove that the marriage was entered in good faith and that it was not a mere business transaction. If the evidence that you provide is insufficient to prove your relationship, you may be removed from the country, as a result of divorce. If your request for a waiver is considered by the USCIS, conditions on your Green Card may be removed and you will be allowed to remain in the country as a lawful permanent resident.

Divorce may at times affect the status of a conditional permanent resident but if the foreign national spouse becomes a lawful permanent resident before divorce, then their immigration status may not be at risk, even after divorce. A foreign national spouse may become a US citizen after 2 years and nine months from the date when the spouse applied to remove conditions on the Green Card and became a lawful permanent. That process may be affected due to divorce.

The permanent resident spouse may not be eligible to apply for naturalization if divorced before becoming a US citizen. They must wait for two more years to become a US citizen through naturalization, on meeting all the other eligibility requirements for naturalization.

However, if the immigration officers find that the marriage was just a business transaction, the naturalization application filed by the spouse will be denied and they may revoke the Green Card granted to the foreign national spouse.

Such a foreign national who is involved in marriage fraud and breaks the US immigration laws may be deported from the United States. However, the immigration status of a foreign national who entered the marriage in good faith may not be at risk, even after divorce, if sufficient evidence is provided to establish that the marriage was genuine.

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