Imagine having to go through a difficult divorce after months of waiting for your K1 fiancé visa. Sounds like a nightmare, right? In this post we’ll learn what to do if you divorce after the K1 visa process.
Marriage is hard.
Really, really hard!
But it’s worth it if you find someone you are compatible with to go through life together. This is why so many couples in a long distance relationship choose to get married and live in the same country.
Long distance relationships don’t last long if they remain long distance for too long.
Trust me, I know this to be a fact. I personally was in a long distance relationship for many years and it really wore on us as a couple. We had to make the decision to either breakup or start the immigration process (and ultimately get married).
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Thankfully, we were both excited about getting married and starting a life together. ????
But, what if the marriage doesn’t work out after you’ve finally been approved for the K1 visa?
What if you (as the beneficiary) get to the US and marry the petitioner only to find out it was a mistake?
What if your American spouse changes their mind a few weeks or months after the honeymoon is over?
These are all questions that are important to answer when it comes to your immigration status. Stick with me folks, we are going to dive deep into what to do if you divorce after the K1 visa process.
Shawn and Juliet met online 2 years ago and applied for the K1 visa. After waiting over a year, they were finally approved last April and Juliet moved from the UK to the United States. They got married at the courthouse to save some money and moved into Shawn’s 1 bedroom apartment.
Since Juliet wasn’t able to work until she received her green card, she was home a lot. Shawn and Juliet began fighting a lot more and things got really bad after several months. They decided that they weren’t right for each other and filed for divorce.
Dealing with a divorce after the K1 visa process can be tough. You may be worried about your immigration status and whether you will be allowed to stay in the United States.
The answer to this questions is that it depends.
Additionally, every case is different so it will depend on what the circumstances are of your case.
K1 Visa Divorce Rate: Is It High?
Okay, I’m going to let you take a guess as to whether the K1 visa divorce rate is higher than the general US divorce rate….
If you guessed yes, then you are correct!
The divorce rate amount K1 visa holders a higher than what’s average for the US. Why do you think that is?
Close to half of the people who initially applied for the K-1 visas (and marriages) did NOT get married in the United States as planned. Many of the couples decided they weren’t ready to make the leap into marriage.
But what about those who did eventually get married in the US?
Some people think that the many obstacles that couples face during the entire K1 visa process causes so much stress that it breaks couples.
Okay – I will admit that the K1 visa process is stressful but I tend to think that it makes strong couples even stronger!
Additionally, the difficult process could also weed out those who are not in it for love but instead, are looking for a quick way to get a green card.
Divorce Before Adjustment of Status (Form I-485)
When it comes to divorce after the K1 visa process, your current status really matters!
If there was a good time to divorce after the K1 visa, it’s after you’ve received your green card. Why? Well, it’s because your immigration status is more secure after receiving a green card.
But what happens when your divorce before adjustment of status?
You may be scared of divorcing before you have legal status in the US. It means that you won’t be able to apply for a green card without your petitioner and you won’t be able to stay and marry someone else either.
If you are headed for divorce before adjustment of status is complete, you may need to look at your options.
- You have the option to divorce and leave the US.
- You could also divorce and stay in the US illegally.
- Finally, you can divorce, meet someone else and leave the US (to file for another K1 visa)
Of those three scenarios, the best would be the first and third options. This way you can avoid accusing unlawful presence time and still have a chance of coming back the US eventually.
The second option is definitely not the best idea. You certainly do not want to stay illegally (although many immigrants do) because it doesn’t leave you many options to live and work.
Divorce After The K1 Visa But Before Green Card Processing
In the event that your marriage lasts past the green card application process, there is a chance that things could still go bad.
I’ve heard from many immigrants that worry about their green card application when their marriage goes south. They worry that USCIS will find out and deny their adjustment of status.
Here’s the thing…
You shouldn’t try to hide the fact that you are divorcing! The worst thing that you can do is hide the divorce until your green card is processed.
This is because USCIS can find out that you divorced at a later date and revoke your green card. There were even a few cases of USCIS revoking someone’s citizenship because of fraud and misrepresentation! ????
I’ll give you a piece of advice… be honest with USCIS. It’s better to leave the US without a green card and have another opportunity to come back on another visa.
Why risk getting a 3 or 10 year bar, or worse, a permanent bar to the US?
Related Podcast: EP8: Can You Lose Your Green Card If You Divorce?
Divorce After Green Card Approved
Getting a divorce after receiving your green card is probably the best outcome for you.
Becoming a green card holder can give you some security in the US. It means that you don’t need to be married to continue being a permanent resident.
However, you will need to prove that you married in good faith when you are ready to remove conditions on your conditional green card. This means gathering documents showing both names, joint financial and legal documents, etc.
Can you time your divorce?
So, if you’re lucky enough to have divorced after getting your green card, good for you! Maybe I shouldn’t say “lucky” because any divorce is not good unless it was an abusive relationship. (I complete believe in the sanctity of marriage) ????
Technically, you can relax for those two years but you aren’t out of the woods yet!
I’ve gotten multiple emails from immigrants that are condition residents who then go on to have trouble removing conditions on their green card.
This is usually due to them not having enough evidence on a good faith marriage. If you remember anything from this post, please remember that you cannot get a 10 year green card without proving your married was in good faith.
Related Post: How A Divorce Can Affect Green Card Holder?
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Accused of Marriage Fraud By US Petitioner
Take a deep breath!
Don’t think that. it’s the end of your immigration journey if your spouse has accused of marriage fraud.
It won’t be easy to convince USCIS that you didn’t commit marriage fraud but it’s not a complete crap shoot!
Interestingly, whenever divorce is in the air the US petitioner seems to assume that they were a victim of immigration fraud. No way could someone simply not want to stay married to them for other reasons!
Divorce rates in America are about 50%, so it’s no surprise that many beneficiaries get divorced after the K1 visa process is complete. As long as you are prepared to fight back a fraud accusation, you should be fine.
Related Post: Remove Conditions on Green Card After Divorce
Summary: Divorce After The K1 Visa Process
Divorce in America is not fun.
Especially if you have children involved.
But then you add in your immigration status and this can be enough to stress anyone.
However, since divorce is common in America, it’s important that you understand your rights when it comes to US immigration.
If you can get your green card approved before the divorce is finalized, you are in better shape. If this can’t be done, then you risk losing your green card and having to leave the United States.
Lastly, I always recommend not to stay in the US illegally. You don’t want to risk being deported or accruing unlawful presence time which can result in a bar to entry.
One last thing: if you can avoid divorce completely, that would be the best outcome. I know this isn’t always possible but try to go to counseling before deciding that divorce is the only option.