U.S. Law Center

Divorce may make becoming a permanent resident more difficult

Your marriage was a day of happiness for several reasons. However, if you have since decided to call it quits with your spouse, and you hold a green card, you may need to pay special attention to what follows.

People who obtained a green card after marrying U.S. citizens, either due to birth or naturalization, may have some conditions on their status tied directly to the marriage. Divorce may affect any attempt to remain in the U.S. or obtain naturalization.

Conditional green card

When an immigrant obtains a green card through marriage, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services puts a two-year condition on the temporary card. This condition is a result of attempts by foreign nationals to marry permanent citizens and then divorce quickly once they obtain their green card. The temporary nature of the green card just gives USCIS extra time to ensure that the marriage was legitimate and not a ploy to obtain entry and residency.

Path to citizenship not over after divorce

If your marriage ends short of the two-year requirement, do not take this as the end of your stay in the U.S. You can still file the form and go through the process to take away the residency conditions on your status, even if you are no longer with your spouse. It does not mean you will have to leave the country or do not have a chance to stay. You may, however, need to do more to prove your marriage was not a sham. Even when a marriage does not end, couples must go through steps to firm up green card status after two years.

Couples wed and divorce all the time. However, if one spouse is only in the U.S. because of the other's citizenship, then the separation gets into the spotlight. Retaining qualified legal assistance may help you understand the immigration process before and after divorce.

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