If you have concerns about how divorce will affect your green card, turn to Cohen Family Law. We know that divorce is a life-changing experience that may even affect a person’s immigration status. Although many green card holders are not affected by divorce, ending your marriage may complicate your path to citizenship.
Under U.S. immigration law, only real, valid marriages qualify an immigrant for residence status. So, divorce may raise questions as to whether your marriage was real. Our experienced Arizona divorce attorney will take the time to explain your rights and explore your options. Contact our office today to learn more.
Will I Lose My Green Card If I Get Divorced?
U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) pays close attention to potentially fraudulent marriages. How divorce will affect your immigration status depends on whether you are holding a permanent or conditional green card.
Renewing a Permanent Green Card After Divorce
If you are currently a lawful permanent resident with a 10-year green card, your marital status does not affect your immigration status. If you divorce, however, you must file to renew or replace the card on Form I-90.
This application does not have questions about your marital status and lists several reasons for the application. For example, you can state that your name or biographic information has legally changed since your existing card was issued. Form I-90 also allows you to change your name as long as you have a legal document as proof, such as the divorce decree. While completing this form is not very complicated, it’s a good idea to have the help of an experienced lawyer so that you don’t make mistakes.
Divorce After Conditional Green Card
USCIS issues a two-year conditional green card to immigrants who marry U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This time period is designed to give USCIS enough time to determine whether the marriage was entered in good faith rather than as an attempt to become a resident unlawfully.
When this time period ends, the couple must file a Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751). This form must be filed jointly with the spouse with whom the green card was obtained. If the couple divorces, however, the holder cannot file jointly and must file a waiver request with the USCIS.
If you were issued a conditional green card and are now divorced, immigration officials will review your case entirely. You must file the waiver request without your spouse. You must also provide the USCIS with proof that the marriage was real and that you did not marry only to become a resident. Evidence that the USCIS will accept includes:
- Joint bank account statements, titles for jointly owned property, life insurance policies that listed both of you as beneficiaries, joint credit card statements, and other documents proving that you and your ex-spouse had combined finances before the divorce.
- Evidence you and your ex-spouse lived together – a mortgage note or apartment lease, or other documents with both your names and addresses on them (joint bank statements, utility bills). Letters from family members, friends, and employers saying that you were an actual married couple may also be used as proof.
- Proof you had children together, such as birth certificates signed by both parents or school or medical records that list the names of both spouses.
- Other evidence such as wedding photos, letters or emails to each other, and even receipts from gifts that were purchased during the marriage.
However, this type of evidence can be difficult to obtain without the cooperation of your ex-spouse. We have seen challenging divorce cases in which a spouse who was a citizen or permanent resident claimed that the marriage was a sham, causing the other spouse to lose his or her green card. Regardless of your circumstances, our family law attorneys can guide you through the process and will work to protect your immigration status.
What happens if I divorce before my green card application is approved?
If you divorce your spouse before your application has been approved, the immigration process stops and you are no longer eligible for residence. You will also lose your eligibility if your application has been approved but the USCIS has not issued your green card yet. However, you may still be able to get a green card in other categories, whether through family relationships, employment, asylee, or refugee status.
How Our Firm Can Help
The divorce attorneys at Cohen Family Law are committed to helping underserved immigrant communities throughout Arizona. If you are a green card holder who is considering divorce or your immigrant status has already been affected because your marriage ended, we can help. Our legal team regularly works with immigration attorneys in the state who can help you complete the necessary forms and handle matters with USCIS. Don’t let divorce affect your green card. Contact Cohen Family Law today to get started.