If You Are a Green Card Holder, Can You File For Divorce and Stay in the U.S.?

When a green card holder files for divorce and wants to stay in the United States things aren’t exactly cut and dry. The main question that will be posed is if the marriage was the real thing or if it was simply a hoax to live in the U.S. The good news is that even when you get divorced your efforts for getting a green card are not over automatically. There are many things to consider and United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) is always on high alert for fraudulent marriages.

When you file for divorce the question the legitimacy of your marriage may be questioned. This may sound simple but it can get a little sticky. For example, if you have been in the states for years and have children that may be proof enough that your marriage was legit. If that is the case you will likely have no trouble staying in the states.

If you are getting divorced after you have already applied for a permanent residence, then you should be in the clear, at least for now. The only people who become permanent residents right after applying for their green card are those who were already married for two or more years at the time they were approved for the green card. If you later apply for U.S. citizenship, the USCIS may take another look at your file to ensure that your intentions are pure.

The process may be challenging if you have applied for your green card and were approved for conditional residence. This is when you received the two-year green card that is given to those whose marriage was less than two years when approved for the green card. The challenge comes after those two years are up and the USCIS looks into your case again. Typically, a joint petition, signed by both spouses showing that the marriage is legitimate is presented to the USCIS. However, after a divorce you have to present the petition yourself and try to convey the fact that the marriage began as the real thing and things just didn’t work out the way you had hoped. The USCIS will look at different forms, documents, statements, and any other evidence from your file to see if the marriage was real or not. They will then decide the best course of action to take.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.