Can My Divorce Affect My Immigration Status

Can My Divorce Affect My Immigration Status?

Divorce is already a tough situation, having to deal with a major life change, as well as concerns regarding finances and children. However for those who already are navigating the complexities of immigration, divorce introduces an additional factor of stress and uncertainty. The question of whether your divorce will affect your immigration status weighs heavy. Alongside hiring an Irvine divorce attorney, you may also want to hire an immigration attorney.

Understanding Immigration Status and Marriage

In the United States, marriage to a citizen or a lawful permanent resident can be a pathway to obtaining immigration status. Spouses of citizens or permanent residents may be eligible for visas, green cards, or other immigration benefits based on their marital status.

Permanent Green Card Status

If you have a green card and have been a permanent resident during the time of your marriage before your divorce, the divorce should not affect your residency status. If you had a green card but was not a permanent resident yet, it will affect the amount of time you have to wait to apply to become a citizen. If you were still married, you only have to wait 3 years, compared to the 5 years you must now wait. You also will need to be able to prove that you time married was legitimate by providing documents such as scrapbooks and letters to one another. If you are unable to prove the legitimacy of your marriage, the USCIS may deny your citizenship and trigger removal procedures.

Conditional Residency Status

Those who immigrated within 2 years after their marriage with a US citizen pr lawful permanent resident, may have a conditional residency status. If your marriage ends and you decide to divorce, there is the possibility that you may lose your residency status and be deportable.

Conditional status lasts two years after marriage, and then one those two years are up, you will need to prove your marriage is legitimate and you are still married, to apply for permanent residency. To do this, you and your spouse need to file a joint petition (Form I-751) atleast 90 days before your green card expires. If you are divorce, this may be difficult as the form is joint, but it is not impossible. After you prove that your marriage was legitimate at the time and not for the purpose to obtain a green card, you can request a waiver of the joint filing requirement. Then once you get permanent residency, you will have to wait 5 years to apply to become a citizen.

Dependent Visa Status

Those who have a dependent visa status are those whose immigration status are dependent on their spouses’s current visa or work in progress application. Once your divorce is finalized, it is most likely that you will not be able to obtain a green card and will lose your immigration status.

How to Prove the Marriage Was in Good Faith

Be prepared to provide documentation to prove your marriage was legitimate and not just for residency. Documents that are beneficial include lease agreements, bank statements, joint financial accounts, shared bills, photographs (scrapbooks), and other evidence of a life built together.

US Citizienship After Divorce

As long as you have a permanent green card, even if you are divorced from your spouse, you can still become a US citizen. You will have to wait atleast 5 years after your green card to be able to apply for citizenship. You will need to file the Form N-400: Application for Naturalization in order to start the process.

For those still married, instead of 5 years, you only have to wait 3. If you were in the process of becoming a citizen, but you got divorced before it was finalized, you will have to withdraw and continue waiting after your 5 year period, as you are no longer eligible for the 3 year wait.

In conclusion, divorce can indeed affect immigration status, introducing complexities and challenges for individuals navigating the intersection of marriage, divorce, and immigration. By understanding the implications of divorce on different immigration statuses, individuals can navigate this complex terrain with greater confidence and clarity.