I’d like to discuss with you the impact of divorce on your green card. Here at our firm, we know the immigration journey is long and you’ve worked really hard and waited a while to receive your green card. It’s very important for you to be able to keep your lawful status and continue your life here in the United States.
What happens if you are going through a divorce or if you already divorced? How that impacts your green card? We know that can be very scary and it’s a question we receive a lot. So we want to make sure you have accurate information about what happens in the next steps.
Let’s talk about what happens in the event of a divorce. What happens to your green card?
First off, we know relationships are hard and it’s extremely difficult to go through a divorce. Having that cloud of what’s going to happen with your immigration status over your head is really scary and so we want to make sure you have information about what that means.
For individuals who have something called a two-year conditional green card, those individuals have to file another application 90 days before the two-year anniversary of that card. For individuals who have married a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident or if you’ve gone through the fiancé visa process and your marriage was less than two years old when you received your green card, then it’s only valid for two years.
It’s a conditional green card and immigration requires that you check in with immigration 90 days before the two-year expiration or the two-year anniversary of your card. You have to file a removal of conditions application showing immigration that you and your spouse are still in a relationship and still plan to have a future together.
That removal of conditions application is something that is jointly filed with you and your spouse. But if you get a divorce, there is a way that you can file that application on your own.
While typically, the application is filed by both spouses, there are some exceptions that allow you to file that application on your own, without your spouse. Some of those exceptions include: death of your spouse, divorce or if there was abuse in the relationship or if you would suffer extreme hardship. If you were to lose your green card, extreme hardship is another basis. I just want you to be aware of the other possibilities of being able to file the application on your own but we’ll use the context of if you’re going through a divorce or if you’ve already divorced.
If you have a two-year green card and if you are in the process of a divorce or if you’ve already divorced and you’re close to that two-year mark, you’ll want to make sure you begin the process of collecting information and documents so you can file the application on your own for removal of conditions. Typically, you have to wait to file your removal of conditions in the 90-day window before the two-year anniversary of your green card.
The rule is if you file the application with your spouse together, a joint removal conditions filing, you cannot file it any earlier than 90 days before that two-year anniversary. They have a 90-day window. But if you’re going through a divorce or if you’ve already divorced, you actually can file that removal of conditions application on your own immediately when the divorce occurs.
If it happens before that 90-day window, you can still file that application for removal of conditions on your own right away. That’s one of the main things that we definitely want to make sure you’re aware of. If a divorce occurs or if you’re going through the process of divorce, you should actually also begin the process for removal of conditions on your green card on your own.
What does it mean to file your removal conditions application on your own?
That means that you’re filing it without your spouse. You don’t need your spouse to sign anything and that your spouse doesn’t have to participate in the process because you’re either going through a divorce you’re separated or you’re already divorced.
What immigration wants to see is that you are divorced. So, you would have to submit the divorce decree to show that the divorce has been finalized. Also, immigration wants to see that you entered the relationship in good faith. Which means you entered the relationship, you entered the marriage because you were in love and you had intended to have a future together but unfortunately, the relationship ended. To prove that, immigration would want to see relationship evidence of the two of you living together. Leases, joint bills, photos together.
They still want to see relationship evidence from the time that you were together along with the divorce decree and you’ll also have to provide a statement about your relationship and how you entered the relationship with the intention of having a future together and that you entered the relationship for reasons of love and unfortunately, the relationship didn’t work out and explain what happened.
We all know relationships are hard and there can be a lot of difficulties. There might be financial reasons
that it didn’t work out. There can be so many reasons why marriages unfortunately end and immigration just wants to see in your statement exactly what happened. They can see that you had a good faith entering the marriage but unfortunately, it ended.
The last thing that we want you to be aware of with removal of conditions is once you submit that application with all of that evidence with your statement with the divorce decree, you’ll have an interview with an immigration officer with only you attending. The immigration officer will ask you questions about your relationship, about the evidence that you submitted and about your statement and about why the relationship didn’t work out.
We know that this process can be extremely stressful. But we know you’ve also worked very hard to get your green card and it’s very important for you to keep it. So we wanted to make sure you have all of the facts and know that you’ll be able to go through this process alone. We know so many people panic and think, “I’m going to lose my green card because I am going through a divorce or I have divorced”. That’s not true. You get to have this opportunity to keep your green card by filing this application on your own.