Remove Conditions on Green Card After Divorce
With divorce rates being nearly 50% of all marriages, it’s no wonder that many immigrants face the challenge of immigration status in the middle of it. So, is it possible to remove conditions on green card after divorce?
Simple answer is yes. Let’s take a look at the steps need to remove conditions after your divorce your U.S. citizen spouse.
First, you must understand that if you have a temporary 2 year green card, you’re required to remove conditions 90 days before the expiration date. Waiting until after your green card expires can risk getting approved for the 10 year green card.
Elizabeth immigrated to the U.S. on a K1 fiance visa from England. She married her fiance David soon after arriving in the United States. After 1 year of marriage, they realize that they are not a good match for each other.
They decide to separate and file for divorce. Elizabeth’s conditional 2 year green card expires within 6 months and she is worried about removing the conditions after divorce.
The scenario above is more common than you think. Many immigrants enter marriage to a U.S. citizen in good faith but realize after living together that they are not compatible. There are some people who will claim this is immigration fraud, but it’s not.
Just because someone chooses to divorce their American spouse doesn’t automatically mean they entered the marriage for a green card. This is a ridiculous accusation to make unless there is real evidence. Yes, I’ll admit that there is immigration fraud but it’s a very very small percentage of applications.
Filing For Green Card After Divorce (Form I-751)
When removing conditions on your 2 year green card, you generally must include evidence that you are still married to the original petitioner. If you have filed for divorce before removal of conditions is approved, you must submit a waiver of this requirement.
There are two scenarios that can happen in the event of a divorce.
You have submitted form I-751 before you filed for divorce.
If you were still married when you completed form I-751, but later filed for divorce while your application was pending, you will need to submit the waiver as soon as possible.
Some people will try to wait and see if their 10 year green card will be approved without an interview but this can be risky. This is especially the case if you didn’t submit enough evidence of good faith marriage to USCIS.
A strong case will likely not need an interview and you can expect your green card in the mail within 6-12 months after submitting the ROC forms. But, I will say that you run the risk of being called for an interview and having your ex-spouse refuse to attend.
I always recommend being honest with USCIS no matter what the consequences. If they ever find out that you filed for divorce and didn’t notify them it can cause a lot of problems for you in the future.
What happens if you divorce while I-751 is still pending?
You have filed for divorce before submitting form I-751.
The other scenario is that you filed for divorce before you were eligible to remove conditions on your conditional green card.
In this case, you must submit the waiver with form I-751. The hardship waiver allows you to get the permanent green card after divorce without the U.S. spouse’s cooperation whether it’s due to divorce or abuse.
If the waiver is approved by USCIS, then you are not required to submit form I-751 as a joint petition. This doesn’t mean that it will be easy to self-petition the removal of conditions application yourself. USCIS will look at your case more closely to see if there was any fraud committed.
This is why it’s so important to submit as much evidence of your good faith marriage as possible to show that you had a real marriage based on love and it just didn’t work out. Adjudicators are trained to look out for signs of green card fraud and divorcing soon after marriage can be a big red flag.
Curious if you will lose your 2 year green card if spouse files for divorce?
Hardship Waiver For Removal of Conditions
Alright, now that we know that we need to file a hardship waiver for the I-751 removal of conditions application, let’s find out how to do this. To file Form I-751 with a hardship waiver after divorce, the following things should be included in the package:
- USCIS filing fee ($595 as of 2018 + $85 biometrics fee.)
- A copy of both sides of your permanent resident card.
- A copy of the divorce decree or annulment document that ended your marriage. (If this is not available, include evidence that the divorce proceedings have started.)
- Evidence of a “good faith” marriage.
- Explanation of reasons why your marriage ended.
When you include a statement of why your marriage ended, be sure to be as detailed as possible. Your personal story can sometimes help the adjudicator get an understanding of the events that lead to the divorce.
- No-Fault Divorce: A divorce due to irreconcilable differences or a mutual decision to terminate the marriage.
- Explain that your divorce mutual and describe the differences that caused you to choose to separate and end your marriage.
- Examples of irreconcilable differences can include: differences in how to handle money, disagreements about whether to have children and where to live, or anything else that is important to you.
- If you tried to save your marriage through counseling, you should include records or proof that you attempted to get counseling. This can help to show that you wanted your marriage to work and tried your best to make it work.
- Divorce by Fault of Ex-Spouse: a divorce that is forced by actions of your spouse.
- The divorce was the result of the spouse’s actions such as cheating, abandonment, impotency, or imprisonment.
- Make sure to submit a copy of the divorce or annulment petition that include those fault grounds or other evidence that supports your claims.
Proving Good Faith Marriage After Divorce
If you’ve made it this far in the immigration process, I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “good faith marriage” or “bona fide marriage”, right? Well it basically means that you are in the marriage for love and not just immigration benefits.
It’s USCIS’s way to determining whether you got married for the right reasons.
Even in the case of abuse by the U.S. citizen spouse, the conditional green card holder but still prove a good faith marriage. The I-751 hardship waiver is not a get-out-of-jail card and is not an automatic approval of your ROC petition. You should take this waiver very seriously and only submit it if you’ve done your research and consulted with someone who is familiar with it.
What exactly is a good faith marriage?
It means that you entered the marriage for love. You can prove this by showing that you intended to have a life with your spouse. Examples include having children, buying a home together, getting life insurance in each other’s names, etc.
Since USCIS isn’t in your home everyday, they rely of the evidence you submit to know whether you entered the marriage in good faith. If they suspect a sham marriage based on fraud, it’s likely that the I-751 will be denied and your green card terminated if it hasn’t already expired.
Evidence To Include For The I-751 Waiver Petition
The following list of items can be used to show good faith marriage for the I-751 waiver. The more you include, the better.
- Mortgage or rental agreement showing both names
- Drivers’ licenses or IDs showing the same address
- Bank statements showing the same address
- Credit card statements showing the same address
- Voided or cancelled checks showing the same address
- Utility bills showing the same address (utilities bills, cable, internet, cell phone, etc.)
- Property/rental insurance agreements, statements, or cards showing the same address
- Health and life insurance statements showing the same address
- Gifts and letters from friends, family, or businesses showing the same address
- Affidavits from friends, family, neighbors, and landlords confirming you live together
Required To Attend I-751 Interview With Hardship Waiver?
I’m sure you’re wondering if you still have to attend an interview for the I-751 if submitting a waiver for the joint filing requirement…
The answer is… YES!
USCIS wants to talk to you in person to be sure there is no immigration fraud being committed. For couples filing jointly, they have a good chance of not being called for an interview if they submit a strong case.
In my own case, I didn’t have to attend the interview with my husband because we made sure to submit a REALLY strong case. Plus we were still married at the time so USCIS didn’t need to interview us before issuing my 10 year green card.
But, for those of you who are filing I-751 with the hardship waiver (or sometimes called divorce waiver) don’t count on being approved without an interview. Don’t worry though, the interview will just be a review of the documents you submitted and a few questions about your marriage and why it ended.
Honesty is the best policy in this case so be sure to answer the questions truthfully. This is not a time to complain about how horrible your spouse was unless you have evidence such as abuse.
The interview will last about 15-30 minutes and you will either get an answer right there on the spot or mailed to you. Some people find their case is put into administrative processing if USCIS needs more time to review your case before making a decision.
Final Thoughts: Remove Conditions on Green Card After Divorce
Divorcing your U.S. spouse doesn’t mean green card denial or deportation. As long as you understand what USCIS expects from you and you submit the removal of conditions application properly, you can expect to be approved for the 10 year green card.
Before filling out the I-751 with the hardship waiver, you should understand all of the requirements for approval. Submitting a weak case will not only get your denied for the permanent green card but it can also damage your case for future naturalization.
Most people can submit a strong I-751 with a hardship waiver if they do the research and learn what USCIS is looking for. You may not need an immigration attorney to help you if money is tight. But you have to know what you are doing to be sure you don’t make a mistake.
If you need help with putting together a STRONG I-751 with hardship waiver, consider signing up for premium case support.
Did you divorce your U.S. citizen spouse and worried about removing conditions on your 2 year green card? Can you prove you entered the marriage in good faith? Let me know in the comments below.
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.