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Will I Lose My Green Card if I Get Divorced?

April 25, 2022

Immigration to the United State is a long and complicated process, and tiny mistakes at any step of the way can send you back to the beginning. Filing for or receiving a divorce or annulment can be extremely stressful by itself, but adding that to fears of deportation or immigration status denial can be debilitating.

That is why having an experienced immigration attorney on your side can be a blessing. There is no need to go through extreme hardship and stress on your own when there are people who can help. 

At the Law Office of Jason A. Dennis, we know that all of our clients are working hard to gain permanent residence, and are doing so for good reason, and we are ready to take some of that load off of your shoulders. With years of extensive experience in dozens of different immigration courts, Jason. A Dennis is here to make sure that your immigration journey goes as smoothly as possible. 

Will Getting a Divorce Invalidate My Green Card?

The good news is that, in most situations, you will not lose your green card due to a divorce. If you have a permanent 10-year green card at the time of your divorce and have permanent resident status, you will see no effects on your status as a green cardholder. You will also see no difference in the renewal of your green card after divorce, as your renewal papers do not ask anything about marital status. 

However, divorce can cause problems if you are still under a conditional 2-year green card. These conditional green cards are only given to green card applicants that have come to the United States via marriage to a citizen or permanent resident and grant these persons conditional residence status. If you receive a divorce or an annulment during this conditional 2-year period, this can and will affect your green card status. 

a woman holding a green card

Divorce Under a 2-Year Conditional Green Card 

If you file for or receive a divorce or annulment during your conditional green card time period, you are at risk of losing your green card. Just like if your marriage was still intact, you must continue to provide evidence and proof to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office that the marriage that you filed for the green card under was real, even if that marriage has ended.

A divorce or annulment can make it extremely hard to prove that the marriage was real. While it is still possible, you will have a difficult journey and it is suggested that you have an experienced NYC green card attorney at your side to help you through it. It is not the end of the road however, USCIS is aware that divorces happen in real marriages every day, and you may be able to continue on your immigration journey with no issues.

You will also need to file a waiver for the joint filing requirement after your receive a request for evidence, as you no longer have a spouse that is also filing on your behalf. The burden of all evidence will be on you completely, meaning that your green card approval rests solely in your hands and the hand of your immigration lawyers. This waiver request must be submitted properly and on time, prior to your interview, to ensure that your case is not thrown out on basis of Immigration fraud.

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What Kind of Evidence Does USCIS Want? 

You can provide all sorts of evidence that your marriage was real. Things like infidelity can make this extremely hard to prove if the infidelity was on the part of the green card applicant. You do not have to prove that the marriage was "real" to your partner, since they may have been using you, but you do have to prove that the marriage was real and entered into under good faith on your part. 

This can be simple and is something you should have been preparing for as anyone under a conditional 2-year green card has to prove their marriage was entered into under good faith and not as a ploy for citizenship. An experienced Manhattan immigration attorney can walk through your case with you and help you choose the most effective evidence for your situation. 

What Happens if I Have Not Received My Green Card Yet?

If you are still in the application process for your green card, and you receive a divorce or annulment, from the citizen or permanent resident that is sponsoring your immigration claim, your request will be denied on the basis that the permanent resident or citizen listed on your application will no longer be sponsoring you. Under immigration laws, this means that your immigration status has been denied and you must start the process over with someone else with permanent residency acting as your sponsor. 

Because your conditional residence depends on your sponsor until you receive your 10-year permanent resident green card, you must move quickly to find another sponsor and restart the immigration process before you are forced to leave the United States. If possible, it's best to have your new sponsor lined up and ready to go before your divorce decree is final. You can receive status as a conditional resident through many sponsors, including jobs and religious groups. 

Will Divorce Affect My Naturalization Process? 

Depending on the circumstances of your case, divorce can affect the naturalization process. If you received your green card through marriage and are basing your naturalization off of being married to a US citizen for 3+ years, you will lose your reason and must come up with another valid reason for naturalization. 

A couple sitting at a desk to sign divorce papers

Even if you get divorced, you can still file for naturalization as long as you already have permanent resident status. While you only have to wait for 3 years if you are married to a US citizen, you will have to wait 5 years to file based on your permanent residency. This means, for many applicants, having to put their plans on hold for several years. This can be extremely frustrating, but thankfully not detrimental to your immigration journey. Your divorce decree doesn't have to hurt your chances at Naturalization, and you can use the additional years to ensure your naturalization will be successful when it comes. 

Divorce is an Ending, but it Doesn't Have to be the End 

Everyone lives their lives in phases, and sometimes those phases end suddenly, and without warning, affecting everything else in your life. Don't let the ending of your marriage affect your journey to permanent residency and naturalization. While it can add new hurdles to your journey, the ending of your marriage is not the end of the immigrant petition and journey to immigration. 

At the Law Office of Jason A. Dennis, we know that our clients work hard every single day to make their dreams come true. It is always our goal to help our clients succeed in all of their hopes and dreams, especially their immigration status and journey to permanent residence. Call our offices today for a free consultation, and let us get you back on track to receiving the immigration benefits you need. 

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