EP8: Can You Lose Your Green Card If You Divorce?
You know what scares immigrants more than anything? Losing their green card and being deported. Okay maybe that’s not completely true but it has definitely something on many immigrants mind since Trump has taken office. So, in this podcast I answer the questions “can you lose your green card if you divorce?” 😳
I’ve gotten many emails from people who have immigrated to the United States through a US spouse and are considering divorce after they receive their green card.
The one question that I always seem to get is if they will be deported and lose your green card if you choose to divorce. Well, USCIS doesn’t force you to stay married BUT you do need to prove that you didn’t marry just for a green card.
Your spouse can’t threaten to deport you!
No matter how many threats they say to you, they can’t get your deported. The only thing your ex-spouse can do it provide information to USCIS about your marriage.
It’s up to USCIS to investigate your marriage and immigration status. USCIS rarely deports immigrants with conditional green cards even if their ex-spouse reports immigration fraud against them.
Long immigration process = weed out immigration fraud
Spouse cannot threaten deportation on you
USCIS rarely deports immigrants with conditional green cards
1. Did you enter the marriage in good faith?
The key to not losing your green card after divorcing your US citizen spouse is to prove that you married in good faith. This means that you married for love and not for a green card.
To prove you entered the marriage in good faith, be sure to include the following documents:
Joint residence (lease, mortgage) – It’s important to live together when married. If there was a long period of time that you didn’t live together, explain this by including an additional statement.
Joint taxes – Include tax returns that you’ve filed jointly. If you didn’t file jointly, provide a statement as to why and include other strong evidence of bona fide marriage
Joint expenses – Joint expenses and utilizes show that you currently pay bills together. Be sure that both your names are on the bills.
Joint bank accounts – Joint finances are probably the single most important evidence you an include. This means printing out bank account, credit card and investment statements that show both your names on them.
Joint insurance – If you have life insurance or health insurance with your spouse, include this evidence. It shows that you had a real marriage where you were beneficiaries of each others life insurance policies and covering each other on health insurance.
2. Have you had multiple marriages and divorces?
Being married and divorced more than once isn’t normally an issue. But, if your previous marriage was also to a US citizen, then USCIS may look at that case more closely.
Having multiple marriages/divorces will affect your case
- Multiple marriages and divorces can be an issue, especially if it was to another US citizen. To reduce your chances of losing your green card, be sure to explain what happened in your prior marriage and how it ended in divorce.
Were your other spouses US citizens?
- Again, it’s a red flag if you’ve been married to multiple US citizens whether you were sponsored or not. Get ready to answer questions as to why and how you ended up marrying multiple US citizens.
Difference in age, culture, race, and religion
- A large age gap, different culture, race and religion isn’t necessarily a cause for concern but it will be something that may come up depending on the country the beneficiary is from.
3. Were you accused of fraud or misrepresentation?
Being accused of marriage fraud is no joke! USCIS will likely do an investigation if your ex-spouse provided any form of evidence of fraud or misrepresentation.
Will your ex-spouse file charges of marriage fraud or immigration fraud?
- This is something that happens quite often. If your spouse is unhappy about the divorce then they could go to USCIS and claim that you married for the purpose of a green card. It’s up to you to prove the opposite.
Can you prove you didn’t marry for a green card?
- Include the evidence I mentioned about that shows you entered the marriage in good faith. The more evidence you can provide, the better!
Did you live with your spouse?
- Living with your spouse is very important. I’m not talking about living separate for a few days or week but months.
Have you previous applied for a green card through marriage?
- Having a US citizen previously petition a green card for you can be a red flag. USCIS will likely look at your current divorce closer to determine if there was any fraud committed.
Have you been accused of immigration fraud before?
- Being accused of immigration fraud can make it difficult for your to keep your green card or remove conditions on your green card. Overcome this by providing a ton of evidence that you married in good faith and the relationship simply didn’t work out.
4. Have you applied for multiple US visas before?
Were you denied a US visa?
- Being denied a US visa isn’t an automatic reason for green card denial but numerous denials shows your intent to visit/live in the United States. This can cause USCIS to look at your marriage and divorce closer.
Reason for denial
- More important than the actual visa denial is the reason you were denied. If you didn’t have sufficient funds for a student visa, or you were a risk to stay in the US with a tourist visa, USCIS wants to know why you were denied the visa.
Do you have close family in US?
- Having close family members that already live in the US can cause USCIS to be suspicious of your marriage if you end up divorcing quickly. Again, this may look like you wanted to live in the US and be close to family so you married an American to get here.
5. Are there other red flags in your case?
Large age gap
- A large age gap can be a red flag, especially if it’s more than 25 years. This will depend of the beneficiary country and whether this is a normal tradition.
- Being able to communicate in the same language is very important. It’s hard to have a genuine relationship if there is no way to communicate with your spouse.
- Having two different cultures is okay but it will depend on whether the beneficiary country frowns on this type of marriage or whether one of you will need to change or accept the other persons cultural lifestyle.
- Religious differences are usually not too big of a problem but if either one of your families are against it or don’t know about your marriage, this can be a problem.
My final piece of advice: If them marriage isn’t working, don’t stay because of fear of losing your GC, it’s unlikely to happen unless you committed immigration fraud.
Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.