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Navigating Divorce as a Green Card Holder

Going through a divorce is a difficult emotional experience, and on top of that, you might be worried about how it affects your immigration status. The good news is, for most Green Card holders, a divorce itself doesn't jeopardize your permanent residency. However, depending on the type of Green Card you have, there can be some things to consider. Let's break it down.

Types of Green Cards and Divorce:

There are two main categories of Green Cards: permanent resident Green Cards (valid for 10 years) and conditional Green Cards (valid for 2 years).

  • Permanent Resident Green Card: If you already have your 10-year Green Card, getting divorced generally doesn't affect your immigration status. You can renew your Green Card as usual by filing Form I-90. The form doesn't ask about your marital status.

  • Conditional Green Card: You were issued this Green Card if you were petitioned by your U.S. citizen spouse and had been married less than 2 years at the time you were approved for permanent resident status. It's valid for 2 years, and prior to the expiration of the card, you and your spouse must file a joint petition (Form I-751) to remove the conditions on your permanent resident status and get a 10-year Green Card. This is where things get trickier with a divorce.

Conditional Green Card and Divorce:

If you get divorced before removing the conditions on your conditional Green Card, things get more complex. Here's why you should seek help from an immigration attorney:

  • Proving Good Faith Marriage: USCIS will want to see evidence that your marriage was genuine and not entered into solely to get a Green Card. An immigration attorney can help you gather and present the strongest possible case to USCIS.

  • Waiver: You can apply for a waiver of the joint filing if you can show that your marriage ended through no fault of your own (abuse, abandonment) or extreme hardship would result if you were deported. An immigration attorney can guide you through the waiver process and ensure your application meets all the necessary requirements.

Naturalization and Divorce:

While divorce itself won't affect your Green Card status, it can impact your timeline for applying for U.S. citizenship (naturalization). If you want to become a naturalized citizen based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, you typically need to be married and living together for at least 3 years before filing your application. A divorce would interrupt this timeframe.

Don't wait until after your divorce to consult an attorney. Especially if you have a conditional Green Card, seeking legal advice early on is crucial. With an immigration attorney by your side, you can approach your situation with a clearer understanding of your rights and options and ensure a smoother path toward your future in the U.S. Contact us now at (512) 894-9984 to schedule a consultation.


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