The Effect of a Divorce on Visa or Immigration Status

By Michael DiFalco

Going through a divorce can be difficult enough as is, but it is especially so when visas or immigration status are involved. If you’re concerned about how your divorce will affect your U.S. residency, it’s important to reach out and work with a divorce attorney who is well-versed in these unique cases. 

Understanding Marriage Green Cards

Obtaining a green card is necessary for a nonresident to legally live within the U.S. with their spouse. When a nonresident applies through an eligible spouse, they are given what is called a marriage green card. 

There are many benefits to having a marriage green card over something like a family-based green card. Though the latter allows nonresidents to apply for United States residency through a qualified family member, applications for the former usually involve shorter wait times, allowing couples to be together in the U.S. much faster than pursuing alternative paths. 

Types of Green Cards

When obtaining a marriage green card, it’s important to note there are two types of green cards: conditional and permanent green cards. 

Conditional green cards are issued to spouses who have been married for less than two years. Once issued, a conditional green card will only last for two years. Permanent green cards, on the other hand, are for couples married for more than two years, and they are valid for ten years.

Can a divorce impact a person’s visa or immigration status?

A divorce can, indeed, impact a person’s visa or immigration status. However, the way in which it does will depend on several details, including whether the individual has already received their green card and the type of residency they are in the U.S. with. 

Getting Divorced During the Green Card Application Process

If you divorce in the middle of the application process for a marriage green card, the application process will stop altogether, regardless of whether you or your spouse were seeking the green card. 

Divorce With a Permanent Green Card

Generally, your marital status does not affect your green card status once you obtain a permanent green card. At the time of renewal, which is ten years after receiving the card, you would file a Form I-90, otherwise known as an “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.” 

There are no questions on the form regarding your marital or relationship status. If you changed your name back to your maiden name after your divorce, you would only need to provide documentation exhibiting the name change at the time of your renewal. 

Divorce With a Conditional Green Card

A conditional green card gets its name because it involves certain conditions, and after its allotted two years are up, its holder will need to prove the legitimacy of their marriage. As such, getting a divorce with a conditional green card can be a risky process.

You can file a waiver Form I-751 to petition to remove the conditions from your green card. From there, you will have to prove your marriage was legitimate with evidence and provide a statement explaining why you divorced. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) closely monitors for fraudulent marriages, so it is critical that you provide all necessary information. 

Additionally, you must submit all forms and supporting documents before your conditional resident status expires. Waiting could result in removal proceedings or deportation. 

Getting Legal Help From an Experienced Divorce Attorney

Visa and immigration issues are crucial but challenging to navigate. Therefore, it’s essential to have a knowledgeable, skilled divorce attorney on your side to ensure the best possible result concerning your residential status. When your divorce case involves immigration and visa matters, contact the attorneys at Aiello & DiFalco, LLP. We proudly serve clients in Garden City and Brooklyn, NY, and we’re ready to assist you.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.