When You Get Divorced Matters
One of the biggest factors regarding whether you will be able to remain in the country after getting a divorce from your sponsoring spouse is how far into the marriage you are. If your marriage is short-lived and you divorce during the first 90 days, a key factor in determining your ability to remain in the country will be whether you have filed your Adjustment of Status (I-485).
If you have not yet filed your I-485, you will likely lose your right to remain in the United States and be forced to leave the country. On the other hand, if you have already filed the I-485 and had your interview and been approved, you will receive a valid conditional two-year green card.
For those who divorce during the two-year conditional green card period, there is a strong fear of having to leave the country at the end of the two-year period. However, there is a good chance that you will be granted residency if you submit your I-751 application with a waiver. There are four valid reasons for applying for a waiver, and you must meet the condition of one or more of those criteria to remain in the country.
Valid reasons to apply for a waiver are:
- Having children with your spouse
- Proof that the marriage was legitimate
- Proof of hardship if sent back to your country of birth
- Proof of abuse by your partner
Whether attempting to extend your conditional green card into a permanent residency or not, you will still need to submit form I-751 if your divorce proceedings are ongoing at the end of your conditional period. You will then receive an extension of your conditional status so that you can remain in the country until your divorce has been finalized.
For those divorcing after they have already received a 10-year permanent resident green card, there is no difference between your divorce and the divorce of two people born in the US. There is no longer any worry about whether you will lose your status in the country. You have the right to stay, and divorce does not come into the equation. You won’t need your spouse to file a renewal at the end of the 10-years. You will be able to do so by yourself.
Divorce at this point will also not affect your ability to apply for citizenship. Married or not, once you have reached the required length of residence, you are eligible to apply.
Hiring a Lawyer
All of the bureaucracy involved in immigration can be overwhelming. If you are getting divorced and are concerned about making sure that you can remain in the country, you may want to get a free consultation with an immigration lawyer. An immigration lawyer knows all of the steps that need to be taken both during marriage and divorce to remain in the country legally.
For peace of mind, hire an immigration lawyer to make sure you don’t lose your right to remain in the country when avoidable. Divorce is difficult enough to deal with under normal circumstances. You don’t want to have to worry about having to leave the country on top of everything else if you can avoid it.