US Immigration News

How Divorce Can Affect Your Immigration Status in the US

3.25 minute read
"Divorce can be an emotionally and financially exhaustive event in a person's life. But when you are married to a US citizen, a divorce can even affect your status as an immigrant. As a permanent resident who applied for a Green Card through a spousal petition, your immigration status will be affected if you divorce from your spouse."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Sep 1, 2021
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Divorce can be an emotionally and financially exhaustive event in a person's life. But when you are married to a US citizen, a divorce can even affect your status as an immigrant. As a permanent resident who applied for a Green Card through a spousal petition, your immigration status will be affected if you divorce from your spouse. 

Therefore, before you apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to remove conditions on your permanent residence, it is important to understand how a divorce or annulment might affect your status as an immigrant.

How to Renew Your Green Card After Divorce

Most Green Cards are issued for 10 years and are generally unaffected by a change in your marital status. Therefore, the renewal of your 10-year Green Card will not bring any problems. 

You can simply file Form I-90, Application for Replacement of Permanent Resident Card. You may be required to change your name or address on your Green Card at the same time of renewal. You can provide the legal document of the divorce decree to change your name and submit your renewal application.

How to Renew Your Conditional Green Card After Divorce

If you have obtained your Green Card through marriage to a US citizen, then divorce or annulment will affect your immigration status. A conditional Green Card is issued for 2 years. This 2 year period helps the USCIS determine whether your marriage was in good faith or just to get immigration benefits. At the end of this period, you and your spouse must jointly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence, along with evidence of your marriage’s validity. 

Divorce will cast an issue on the genuineness of your marriage. You can apply for a waiver from the joint application that will allow you to submit Form I-751 after divorce. If you fail to submit Form I-751, then it will likely result in removal proceedings.

How to Apply for a Green Card After Divorce

Your spouse can sponsor your Green Card application for permanent residence in the US. However, if your marriage falls apart while your Green Card application is being processed, then the immigration process will stop.

This happens because divorce dissolves your relationship and your spouse is no longer eligible to sponsor your Green Card application. This will happen even if the immigrant petition was already approved by the USCIS.

If the divorce happens after the Green Card application is approved, then there is no reason for the USCIS to review your permanent resident status. However, it will be difficult to remove conditions on your Green Card after the 2 year period ends since you will be required to prove that your marriage was in good faith.

What Happens If You Divorce Before You Apply for Naturalization?

Based on your circumstances, a divorce may or may not affect your naturalization process to obtain US citizenship. If you are filing for naturalization based on your marriage to a US citizen for 3 years, then you must continue to be married at the time of naturalization. You must remain married until you receive US citizenship. Divorcing your spouse during this process will affect your application.

To avoid this, you can file for naturalization based on your continuous residence in the US. This is because your current marital status will not affect your application for naturalization. When you apply for naturalization, your file is reviewed again by the USCIS. This means that the USCIS will ask certain questions about your marital status and may even request additional documents in some cases. Failure to provide this information may result in the denial of your application. The worst-case scenario will lead your case to be referred to the immigration court for removal proceedings.

In most cases, a divorce will likely not affect your immigration status once you have become a permanent resident. However, it is important to understand how divorce or annulment affects your immigration status as a noncitizen.

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