Green Card after Divorce
with US Citizen or Resident
Unfortunately, not every marital union has a happy history. If you are married to a US citizen or green card holder and are thinking about divorce, in some cases you can avoid deportation. It usually depends on when the divorce takes place. In this article, you will find options on legally remaining in the United States after your marriage is over.
Divorce after receiving a conditional green card
If you are divorcing after you have obtained your conditional green card and are planning to file for a permanent green card, USCIS will want to give extra scrutiny to your case to make sure your marriage was not fraudulent.
Immigration authorities must verify the good faith of a marriage; that's why foreign spouses are issued a temporary CR-1 green card. The validity period of a conditional green card is 2 years. To change a temporary status to a permanent green card, you must file an I-751 petition during the 90 days immediately before your conditional residence expires. It must be signed and submitted jointly by both spouses.
But if you are divorcing, immigration law allows you to file an I-751 petition without a spouse. In this case, it is necessary to prove to USCIS that the marital union was true and legitimate.
Evidence of a bona fide marriage might be:
- joint children (their birth certificates)
- joint ownership or lease of property
- joint utility bills
- joint bank statements
- medical insurance
- lease agreements (indicating the names of the spouses)
- joint photos
- joint insurance policies
- joint trips
If the evidence provided is convincing, the petition will be approved. Then, you will receive permanent resident status. Otherwise, the immigration service may refuse to accept your evidence and accept Form I-751. In this case, a deportation procedure will be initiated, and your case will go to court.
You can sign up for a consultation with ACS Law Offices lawyers to see how we can help with your case. Our experts will assist you with all legal issues and collect all the necessary documents to resolve the matter in your favor.
Divorce after obtaining a permanent green card
If you file for divorce and are already a permanent resident of the United States (holding an IR-1 visa), the divorce cannot affect your immigration status. However, it may delay the opportunity to apply for naturalization. You will have to wait five years instead of three to become a U.S. citizen.
Divorce before getting a conditional green card
If you are divorcing before obtaining a conditional green card and you have not received it yet, it could be a problem. The chances of deportation are now quite high. But there are some exceptions that might give you a chance to stay in the US.
VAWA Green Card
If you are divorcing and have been a victim of violence from your US spouse or green card holder mate, you can qualify for a green card as the victim of domestic violence under WAVA.
VAWA (The Violence Against Women Act) is an act allowing non-citizen victims of domestic violence (women, men, and children) to obtain immigration relief independent of their abusers. It provides protection for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
If an immigrant wife (or immigrant husband) has been abused or beaten by an American spouse, he or she might become a VAWA claimant. Here are the manifestations of violence:
Of note several types of violence can be observed at the same time. If you are willing to qualify as a victim of domestic violence, you have to collect evidence. Domestic violence victimization includes physical, sexual, and psychological harm by an abuser.
Note: Your spouse will not know that you have filed a WAVA application, making it completely safe for you.
Evidence of domestic violence could include:
- police reports (statements describing beatings)
- medical reports (photos of bruises and injuries)
- restriction order
- correspondence with the offender showing the threats
- witness statements
- a letter from a psychologist or a psychiatrist
- evidence that the marriage was a bonafide
How to get a U visa in the USA
An injured spouse may qualify for a U visa.
The U visa is for a non-immigrant victim of certain crimes who has suffered physical or psychological abuse and who helps law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.
A U-visa holder can apply for a green card in 3 years.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and want to protect your VAWA rights or obtain a U visa, ACS Law Offices lawyers will help evaluate your case, prepare all the necessary documentation, and prepare you for the interview.
U visa for witnesses of crimes.
If your spouse is not a US citizen or a green card holder, and you have been abused or are a victim of certain crimes, you can also get a U visa.
Crimes that qualify for a U visa:
- Domestic violence
- Kidnapping/ abduction
- Abusive sexual contact
- False imprisonment
- Female genital mutilation
- Felonious assault
- Fraud in foreign labor contracting
To qualify for a U visa, you must obtain a document from law enforcement that a crime has taken place, and you have cooperated with the authorities or are willing to cooperate.
T Visa for victims of human trafficking
If a person was forced to work or provide services (including intimate ones) by force, fraud, or coercion, he or she can qualify as a victim of human trafficking or sexual slavery.
A T-visa is a non-immigrant visa granted to a victim of human trafficking who wishes to stay in the United States.
Who is eligible to obtain this visa:
- a victim of human trafficking if he (or she) resides in the United States
- a victim of human trafficking who assists law enforcement agencies in investigating crimes related to human trafficking
- a victim of human trafficking who has evidence that outside the United States, he or she might be a subject to persecution
It is important to understand that every divorce case is unique. Sometimes ex-spouses maintain a respectful relationship with each other, and sometimes an American husband or wife can interfere with the divorce, impinging on the opportunity for the spouse to stay in the United States. It is advisable to contact an immigration lawyer before a divorce.
Experienced immigration lawyers from ACS Law Offices will provide qualified assistance. In most cases, we make the divorce process less stressful and significantly increase your chances of obtaining a permanent green card, regardless of your US citizen spouse or green card holder spouse.