Starting the journey to get a Marriage Green Card is a big deal. But life is unpredictable, and sometimes things don’t go as planned, and for some couples, the journey might take unexpected turns, including the possibility of divorce. We’ll look into how divorce can affect the process of getting a marriage green card. We’ll share tips, solutions, and practical advice for anyone dealing with the mix of immigration and personal life complexities.
Conditional v Permanent Green Card
If you’re married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and your marriage is less than two years old when your green card is approved, you’ll likely get what’s called a “conditional” green card. This is like a temporary green card that lasts for two years. It’s a way for immigration authorities to check that your marriage is genuine and not just for getting a green card. This step is in place to make sure people don’t try to trick the immigration system.
The rationale behind the conditional green card is to allow immigration authorities to assess the authenticity of the marriage over this initial two-year period. It serves as a safeguard against individuals who might enter into fraudulent marriages solely for immigration benefits.
To transition from conditional to permanent residency, the couple must jointly file a petition to remove the conditions during the 90-day window before the expiration of the conditional green card. This joint petition involves submitting evidence of the bona fide nature of the marriage. Once approved, the conditional status is removed, and the individual receives a permanent green card.
In cases where the marriage has lasted for more than two years at the time of the initial green card application, the foreign-born spouse typically receives a permanent green card directly, bypassing the conditional status.
Going Through a Divorce While Applying for a Green Card
Going through a divorce while applying for a green card can make things more complicated. When you’re applying for a green card based on marriage, immigration authorities carefully check to make sure your marriage is real. If a divorce happens during the application process, it usually stops everything. Immigration authorities are strict about preventing fraud, so hiding a divorce or misrepresenting your marital status can lead to serious consequences.
Faking a marriage or not disclosing a divorce during a green card application can be seen as immigration fraud and might lead to complications. In this situation, it’s important to handle the legal aspects carefully. You should inform immigration authorities about any changes in your marital status promptly and honestly.
Impact of Divorce on Conditional Green Card Holders
When you have a conditional green card, it’s crucial to show that you and your spouse are still married after two years to lift the conditions. If you go through a divorce during this time, it can create complications.
There is a way to request an exception, known as a waiver, when you submit Form I-751 to remove the conditions on your green card. However, you’ll need to show that your marriage was genuine before the divorce and not a result of immigration fraud. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) carefully reviews applications with waivers, and you might be asked for additional proof to confirm your marriage was entered in good faith.
To prove the authenticity of your marriage, you can provide joint financial records, evidence that you lived together, proof of having children together, or documentation showing that you sought marriage counseling.
How Divorce Affects Those with Permanent Green Cards
If you have a permanent green card and go through a divorce, it usually doesn’t affect the process of renewing your green card. When it’s time to renew, you just need to fill out Form I-90, also known as the “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.”
If you changed your name legally after the divorce, you can also take care of updating your green card during the renewal process. Just submit a legal document showing your new name along with your application.
In conclusion, couples navigating divorce while holding a marriage green card should approach the situation strategically. Open communication, seeking legal advice early, understanding immigration implications, considering alternative dispute resolution, gathering documentation, updating USCIS promptly, and exploring waiver options are essential strategies for a smoother transition through both divorce and immigration processes.
Remember, if you or someone you love are going through a divorce and holds a green card, we recommend calling us at 844-3-RIGHT-BY-YOU (844-374-4482). Our dedicated and compassionate immigration lawyers stand ready to help you. Don’t wait. Contact us by phone or fill out our case evaluation form today.