While divorce means the end of a marriage, it could also result in revocation of permanent residence—and even deportation from the United States.
According to U.S. immigration laws, an immigrant who is part of a legitimate marriage can qualify for a green card. In the event of a divorce, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may review the validity of the marriage.
Fortunately, just because you are divorced doesn’t mean your efforts to obtain a green card automatically end. Immigration officials understand that a real marriage can also fall apart.
However, becoming a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen after your divorce is finalized depends on your current application or residency status.
Divorce After Your Form I-130 Was Approved
Whether your visa petition on Form I-130 was approved or you only submitted the application for a green card or immigrant visa, it means the immigration process just began and no rights to remain in the United States have been given to you. So if your divorce is finalized during this stage of the process, you bid to obtain a green card or immigrant visa ends.
Divorce After You Have Been Approved for Permanent Residence
If you have already successfully obtained a green card or permanent residence, you do not need to worry about USCIS taking another look at your application. Getting permanent residence after applying for a green card only happens to those who have been married for at least two years or more at the time they were approved for a green card. Immigration officials will only take another look at your life if you later apply for U.S. citizenship.
Divorce After You Have Been Approved for Conditional Residence
If you were approved for conditional residence upon applying for a green card, you need to show USCIS that your marriage began a legitimate prior to the divorce. Conditional residence is given to those whose marriage was less than two years old at the date the green card was approved.
After your approval date, USCIS will review your marriage in two years. You must also submit Form I-751, which removes the conditions of your current residence in order to approve you for permanent residence.
However, Form I-751 is considered a joint petition that is signed by both spouses, informing immigration authorities that the marriage is legitimate and still thriving. In the event of a divorce, you alone must submit the petition and request that the joint filing requirement is waived. This needs to be done by providing USCIS with evidence (i.e. joint bank and credit card accounts, copies of mortgage and rental agreements, birth certificates of children, etc.) that the marriage began as a valid union. Only use recent documents. Do not use the evidence you have sent to immigration officials before.
You Apply for U.S. Citizenship
When you apply to become a U.S. citizen, USCIS will once again review your immigration file and the state of your marriage. Immigration authorities often see divorce as a sign of a fraudulent marriage, which means you may be required to provide evidence that the marriage was valid. Again, only use the most recent documents. If you do not have any sufficient pieces of evidence, USCIS can deny your citizenship and also refer you to immigration court for deportation.