What Happens if You Get a Divorce After Green Card

Marriages do not always last and when immigration issues are involved, the matter becomes more complicated. So, what happens if you get a divorce after green card issuance? You will not automatically lose your green card if you get a divorce, however, you should consider the effect of a divorce on your residency status.

Two Types of Green Cards

There are two types of green cards: (1) conditional permanent residence; and (2) permanent residence. A conditional permanent residence card, also known as a 2-year green card is issued when the marriage in no more than 2 years old at the time that the immigration officer approves the case. A ten-year green card is granted in cases where the marriage is more than 2-years old at the time of adjudication. A conditional permanent resident must file an I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions within 90 days of the 2nd anniversary of the grant of conditional resident status, to remove the conditions. If the petition is approved the applicant will receive a 10-year green card.  The 10-year green card holder must renew his or her green card every 10 years or apply for U.S. citizenship, when eligible, if he or she desires naturalization.

Divorce After 2-Year Green Card

Most of the questions surrounding a divorce after green card come from conditional permanent residents. These are foreign nationals who received a two-year green card and the marriage breaks down. The breakdown may happen shortly after approval, close to the I-751 due date, or while it is pending. If your marriage ends before the expiration date on your 2-year green card, you may file the I-751 petition as soon as the divorce has been finalized. You do not have to wait until 90 days before the expiration date to file the petition.

If your marriage is falling apart and as the date approaches to file the I-751 petition, your spouse refuses to sign, you have the option of filing for a waiver of the joint filing requirement. There are several different types of waivers available: (1) divorce waiver; (2) abuse waiver; or (3) hardship waiver.   You apply for a waiver by checking the applicable boxes on form I-751 and including supporting evidence. You may apply for more than one waiver if you have supporting evidence for each one.

You must prove that your marriage was bona fide. Bona fide does not mean that the marriage has to last forever. It means that you entered into the marriage to establish a life together with your partner. Joint ownership of property, joint tenancy, commingling of finances, birth certificates of children common to you and your spouse, and affidavits from third parties are types of evidence that can be submitted with your application to prove that your marriage was real.

You must submit sufficient evidence to overcome any beliefs that you entered into a fraudulent marriage, for the purpose of obtaining a green card.

Divorce After Ten-Year Green Card

Like conditional permanent residents, ten-year green card holders do not need to remain in marriages that are not working, to keep their green cards. Ten-year green card holders do not need to open a new case to notify the government that his or her marriage ended in a divorce. The divorce decree can be submitted when you renew your green card, if you changed your name during the proceeding. If you are applying for U.S. citizenship, you must include the divorce decree with your application.

When you think about “what happens if you get a divorce after green card,” you must think about whether your marriage was real or not. If your marriage was real and you have evidence to support it, you do not need to worry.