Going through a divorce can be distressing and highly complicated, especially if it can significantly impact your immigration status. If you are residing in the United States on a visa or greencard conferred based on your spouse’s petition, a divorce may affect your legal position in the country. For this reason, you must carefully choose to separate or get a divorce and obtain thorough legal assistance.
Divorce vs. Separation
To safeguard your immigration status, you must understand the distinction between a divorce and separation. Divorce is when the court judicially ends the marriage, whereas separation allows the couple to live apart but legally remain married. In most cases, getting divorced will have significant consequences for your immigration status, but being separated will not. Nevertheless, if you are separated from your spouse and divorce is imminent, it is important to disclose the status of your relationship to immigration authorities when asked on a form or in an interview.
How Will A Divorce Affect Your Immigration Status?
You receive a “conditional” greencard if you migrate or adjust status when the marriage is less than two years old at the time of admittance. In that case, your greencard is valid for two years, and you have to file a Form I-751 to extend your residency further three months before your status expires. Even if you are divorced, you might be able to extend your status if you can show your marriage was bonafide at the time it was entered; or if you can show that you were subject to abuse during your marriage; or if you can show that you will face hardship if you are removed from the United States. If the Form I-751 is filed too late, or if the immigration officer does not agree that any of the grounds apply for you to file without your US citizen spouse, you could be placed in removal proceedings.
If your marriage is more than two years old at the time you receive a visa or greencard, you will receive a greencard that is valid for ten years. If you have a ten-year greencard at the time of divorce, you will not be at risk of removal. However, you might have to wait for five years before you can apply for US citizenship, as opposed to the three years allowed for spouse of US citizens
What Is The Wisest Thing To Do During Divorce Or Separation?
If you are experiencing a divorce while still on a greencard that depends on your spouse, the wisest thing to do is get advice from a specialized and knowledgeable immigration attorney who understands how your divorce may affect your immigration status. You have the right to obtain help regardless of your immigration status. At Haq Law, we are skilled in tackling cases like yours and can help you choose your legal options. Schedule your consultation with us today – call us at 415.895.0661.