Can I Lose my Green Card if I Divorce?
The lawyers at Terra Immigration Partners explain how a divorce can affect your green card, your rights as an immigrant, and your obligations. A divorce does not necessarily mean you will lose your green card. We urge you to seek legal assistance immediately before it is too late. If you got your green card through marriage, you might be wondering if you will lose your green card if you divorce your U.S. citizen spouse.
The good news is that if you have a 10-year green card, a divorce will not affect you. You can keep renewing your 10-year green card before it expires or, you can apply for naturalization if you are eligible. You can also sponsor eligible family members for permanent residency, you can remarry, and you can even change your name on your green card. You do not need to inform USCIS that you got a divorce if you have a 10-year green card.
However, if your marriage is less than 2-years old at the time of the green card approval, a divorce can affect your immigration process. When USCIS approves a marriage-based green card for a person whose marriage is less than 2-years old, the green card is “conditional.” The green card is conditioned on the marriage you have with your U.S. citizen spouse.
During the 90 days before the expiration of your conditional green card, you and your spouse must petition to remove the conditions of your green card (Form I-751). You and your spouse must submit new evidence to prove that your marriage is bona fide. In divorce cases, you cannot file jointly with your previous spouse, and you must file for a waiver.
How Divorce Affects the Immigration Process
A divorce from your U.S. citizen spouse before obtaining a 10-year green card can result in the loss of your green card. In divorce cases, USCIS will review the validity of your marriage to determine whether to cancel the green card or not.
USCIS looks closely at marriage-based applications to ensure that the marriage was not entered into solely for a green card. A divorce during the conditional green card status will trigger that scrutiny.
Fortunately, a divorce does not mean an automatic end to your legal residency. USCIS understands that even real marriages sometimes end in divorce. Therefore, for you to get a 10-year green card, you must file for a waiver of the joint filing requirement of the Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions. This means that you can petition for a 10-year green card without your former spouse. It is the best option for many people in this situation.
Permanent Residency After Divorce
If you have a 2-year green card (conditional residency), you can apply for a 10-year green card (permanent residence) by filing Form I-751 and requesting a waiver of your ex-spouse’s presence in the process. You can file for this waiver after your divorce is final. If your divorce is pending, or you are separated, it may add some complications to your case. It would be best if you spoke to an immigration lawyer right away to avoid additional hurdles.
If you file a Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residency with a waiver, you will need to submit evidence that your marriage was real from the beginning. USCIS will want a detailed explanation of why your marriage ended.
Your waiver request must include compelling evidence of the circumstances surrounding your marriage and eventual divorce. This evidence may be in the form of letters, affidavits, or other third-party evidence that can assist your case.
Our immigration lawyers can analyze your unique situation and develop a winning strategy for your case. We have helped dozens of clients keep their green card after a divorce from a U.S. citizen, and we can help you too. Click here to contact us and speak to one of your immigration attorneys.
Our Immigration Attorneys in Orlando Can Help
Getting a divorce is difficult enough and should not be worsened by the uncertainties of your green card. If you are facing a loss of your green card due to divorce, you need legal counsel right away. Keep in mind that a divorce does not necessarily mean you will be deported, but inaction will.
Call us right away and speak to one of our immigration lawyers. We speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese. We will work hard for you with compassion and understanding of your unique situation.