If you are a conditional resident going through a divorce, it is crucial to understand how the process will affect your immigration status. Unfortunately, a divorce can sometimes lead to deportation for an immigrant who is not yet a permanent resident.
If you have questions about what will happen in your specific case, it is best to speak with an immigration lawyer. However, this blog post will discuss some things you need to know about divorce and immigration status.
Understand Your Situation And Make a Plan
If you are a conditional resident going through a divorce, it is important to take steps to protect your immigration status. A divorce can have severe consequences for someone who is not yet a permanent resident. Often, the immigration status pairs with the sometimes ugly nature of divorce.
The first thing you need to do is understand your situation and make a plan. If you are still a conditional resident, your divorce may put you at risk of deportation. Therefore, you will need to take steps to protect your status. If you have already obtained a green card, your divorce will not affect your immigration status. However, you will need to file for a new green card if you divorce after getting a permanent green card.
When planning to protect your immigration status in a divorce, there are many things to consider. You will need to consider your current relationship with your spouse, your divorce proceedings, and any children you have together. You should also be prepared to speak with an immigration lawyer.
Current Relationship With Your Spouse
Your current relationship with your spouse will play a role in protecting your immigration status in a divorce. If you have a good relationship with your spouse, it may be possible to work together to defend your position. However, protecting your status may be more challenging if you have a terrible relationship with your spouse.
It’s not uncommon for the spouse that’s a U.S. citizen to forget about the good things in the marriage and be convinced that their spouse only married them for a green card. The result is that many divorce attorneys add these “bad faith” grounds to their petitions, and neither party is considering how it affects the immigration status of the non-citizen.
If you have a good relationship with your spouse, you may be able to work together to protect your immigration status. For example, you and your spouse can file for a divorce without affecting your immigration status. On the other hand, if you have a terrible relationship with your spouse, you may need to take steps to protect your immigration status on your own.
The divorce proceedings will also play a role in protecting your immigration status. If you can agree with your spouse, you will be able to divorce without affecting your immigration status. However, if you cannot reach an agreement, the divorce proceedings may put your immigration status at risk. Often, the divorce process is different for immigrants than it is for citizens.
If you are going through a divorce, you should speak with an immigration lawyer to understand how the process will affect your immigration status. At the very least, you need to file form I-751 to remove the conditions of your residence, and you will need to file a waiver to remove the requirement of filing a joint petition with your spouse. With this paperwork, you will need to include:
- The divorce decree or settlement
- Proof that the marriage was entered in good faith
- A statement that describes why you go divorced
Proof of good faith is probably the most important part of your case, and the documents should prove that you and your spouse entered the marriage to stay together. Divorce attorneys often ask for pictures, joint bank statements, and other evidence to verify that you entered the marriage in good faith. This evidence is of great importance and carries much weight with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The Reality of Deportation
It’s common for those in the system to believe they will be deported if they get divorced and don’t have permanent resident status. Fortunately, this is not the case. If you divorce after getting a permanent green card, your immigration status will not be affected.
You will still be a permanent resident if you divorce before getting a permanent green card; you will not be automatically deported. However, you will have to go through the process of getting a new green card. If you are a conditional resident, conditions or exceptions to the deportation rule may apply. Such exceptions can include:
- Domestic Abuse – You were the victim of domestic abuse by a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- Good Faith – If you can show that your marriage wasn’t just for immigration status and ended without fault, you might qualify for an exception. To display to the court that you and your spouse entered your marriage honestly, you may be able to provide evidence that includes cohabitation, having a joint child, and owning assets together.
- Extreme Hardship – You may be able to show that you would face undue hardship if you were deported. This is a tough standard to meet, and you would need to provide evidence of factors such as your health, family ties in the U.S., and economic conditions in your home country.
Good faith usually comes into play in most immigrant divorce cases; you can divorce without affecting your immigration status, but sometimes statements from marriage counselors or therapists can be helpful in these cases to show that the marriage was legitimate.
Will Divorce After My Permanent Resident Status Affect Me?
No, divorce after your permanent green card will not affect your status; you are still a permanent resident of the United States. However, if you divorce after getting your permanent green card, you will have to wait approximately five years instead of three to become a naturalized citizen.
Facing Divorce After a Green Card? Contact an Attorney
If you are facing divorce after a green card and are worried about your immigration status, you should speak with an immigration lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you understand the divorce process and how it will affect your immigration status. They can also help you gather evidence to show that your marriage was in good faith.
Nanthaveth & Associates PLLC is an immigration law firm that can help you with your divorce and immigration status. To learn more, contact us today for a consultation.