divorce affect green card

How A Divorce Can Affect Green Card Holder?

Recently, I received an email from a reader asking “can divorce affect green card renewal?” I know this sounds like marriage fraud or immigration fraud but what if it truly wasn’t? I’m an optimist by heart and I like to see the best in people which is why I decided to delve deep into this topic.????

I’m hoping that you’ve married your American sweetheart for love and not just a green card. However, as a disclaimer, I need to tell you that this is not a post on how to scam USCIS. The information I provide will not help you get a green card using fraud or misrepresentation.



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Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way… lets get into the nitty gritty.

Case Example:

Marcus met and married his long distance girlfriend Victoria from the UK. After completing the long and difficult CR1 spouse visa process, she received her permanent residence (green card) and things were good. After 6 months they realized that they were not compatible and Victoria had to consider what her options are in staying in the US.

Divorce is never a fun topic to talk about but it’s important to realize that relationships do end no matter the cause. Immigrants need to understand how this will affect their green card status if they wish to continue living in the United States.

I always recommend that you get legal help with your divorce to make sure that you know the law. Next, you should figure how what you need to gather to ensure your can renew your green card before walking out the door. ????

So, let’s find out if divorce affects green card renewal…

Can A Divorce Affect Green Card Holder?

The simple answer is yes.

And here’s the reason why…

If you received your green card through your spouse then you were eligible because you were an immediate relative of a US citizen (or LPR). This means that the reason you were approved for your green card is because you have an American spouse but divorce results in no longer having an American spouse (simple, right?)

Divorce affects your green card because you will now need to prove you married this person in good faith and not simply for the green card.

This usually isn’t a problem if you truly married for love but some people may have difficulty coming up with the evidence. Especially if you didn’t have joint accounts while married.

So, in a nutshell, divorce will affect your green card but how it will depends only our circumstances.

Many immigrants are able to remove conditions on their two year green card with little trouble after divorce. As long as you are prepared to jump through a few hoops to proof you didn’t commit immigration fraud, you should be fine.

Related Post: Divorce With Pending I-485, Can You Adjust Status With A New Spouse?

Related Post: I-751 Extreme Hardship or Cruelty Waiver After Divorce

divorce rates US

How Long Do You Have To Wait After Green Card To Divorce?

Okay, this is a bit of strange question. When I get a question like this from a reader, I immediately think of immigration fraud! ????

But, this may not always be the case which is why I decided to answer this question assuming no fraud is being committed.

Here’s the good news… USCIS doesn’t require that anyone stay married for any length of time! Thank goodness.

However, divorcing quickly after getting your green card will throw off some red flags to USCIS. This means that you will need to come up with some strong evidence to prove that you married in good faith if you want to keep your green card.

So, if your marriage is on the rocks and you are thinking about divorce don’t stick around because you don’t want to lose your green card. The worst thing you can do is stay in an unhappy marriage simply for your green card.

Additionally, don’t divorce without thinking about how this action will affect your green card. You’ll need to gather evidence of your marriage and joint finances before moving out. Trust me, I’ve seen many immigrants fail to do this to then find out they can’t access these documents anymore.

Related Post: Remove Conditions on Green Card After Divorce

Related Post: My I-751 Divorce Waiver Was Denied, Will I Be Deported?

How Many Years To Stay Married For A Green Card?

Again, there is no requirement to be married a certain length before your green card is guaranteed.

But, the longer you were married the less chance the immigration fraud will be suspected. Why? Because no one stays married for 10 years who was originally committing marriage fraud! ????

Marriage is just too hard to fake it for that long!

So, although there is not set requirement to be married a certain number of years, the longer the better!

If, however, your marriage truly ended months after becoming a green card holder get ready for a fight. I’m not talking about with your spouse…. I’m talking about USCIS.

They’ll want to deep into your life and find out whether they should have given you a green card in the first place! A red flag will be raised about your short marriage and it will be up to you to prove it was genuine all along.

How long you stayed married can sometimes help your case. Ultimately, divorce can affect green card holders but it’s on a case by case basis.

Related Podcast: EP8: Can You Lose Your Green Card If You Divorce?

Related Post: Filing With A Divorce Waiver For I-751 Removal Of Conditions And The Interview

Does Legal Separation Affect Green Card?

Okay, this question was actually very interesting.

Separation isn’t quite divorce but many times you are well on your way. So how does legal separation affect your green card?

Well, it doesn’t and it does at the same time. Since you are not divorced, you are considered still married. USCIS still wants to see that you continue to live with each other as a married couple.

How do you show you still live together? Here’s a quick list:

  • Lease or mortgage documents
  • Utilities in both names
  • Mail in both names to the same address
  • Affidavit from family/friends

Case Example:

Saria married Richard 2 years ago and she is coming up to her removal of conditions application window. But their marriage has been on the rocks for several months now and she has had enough. She decides to begin the process of divorce with legal separation and moves out of their shared home. 

In the case example above, Saria will need to prove that she married Richard in good faith by including some of the evidence elicited above. Other evidence she will need to include is photos, affidavits, shared financial documents.

Related Post: Will I Lose My 2 Year Green Card If My Spouse Files For Divorce Before Removal Of Conditions?



Knowing when your case will be approved shouldn't be a mystery...


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Visa Case Tracker!

Can You Divorce After 10 Year Green Card?

For those of you who already have your 10 year green card, congratulations! ????

You may not need to worry about proving you have married in good faith. You’ve probably been a green card holder for about 3 years now and USCIS doesn’t require that you be married to apply for naturalization.

Although, there is a chance that citizenship could be denied if USCIS finds evidence of immigration fraud. But, this would be a rare case by this point in your immigration journey.

So, does this mean that you are completely safe after you’ve completed the removal of conditions process? Not necessarily. It just means that you have proven your marriage enough already and it’s unlikely that a divorce will affect your chances of keeping your 10 year green card. ????????

A side note though, if you’re thinking about divorcing before removing conditions, be careful! There is a reason that USCIS requires that new immigrants be given a conditional green card instead of the permanent one first.

The reason for the conditional green card is to weed out people who are committing green card fraud. No scammer is willing to stay married, live in the same home, share finances and have children with someone they married for a green card! ????

Related Post: My I-485 Green Card Is Pending, Spouse Threatening Divorce!

Conclusion: Can Divorce Affect Green Card Holder?

Feeling better about your green card status after reading this post?

I can’t really help you with your marriage troubles but I can provide you with helpful immigration information. I’m sure I’ll get more emails from scammed Americans saying that my post is helping people commit immigration fraud.

Well, the truth is that I’m providing information to genuinely legit immigrants that simply want to stay in the country they now call home. But, there will likely be a few bad apples using this information to scam the system, this can’t be helped.

Interested in filing your own family-based immigrant visa? If you want to apply for the spouse visa or fiancé visa, check out the Migrant Academy. It’s an interactive online course program that shows you step-by-step process on how to file your own USCIS petition and visa without an expensive lawyer. Join now to get started!

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