Conditional Green Card
I have a conditional green card and am about to get divorced, now what?
Things didn’t work out between you and your spouse, but does that mean you will be losing your legal permanent residency? No.
First, let’s tackle what conditional permanent residency is:
A spouse receives conditional permanent resident status when any marriage-based petition which is filed within the first two years of marriage, and gets approved. So, if you’ve been married for only two years or less, you should expect to receive a green card which expires in only two years, and not the traditional ten-year card. This was implemented in the mid-1980s, when the United States Congress got worried that people were marrying just to get green cards and committing fraud on our immigration system.
What do you need to do in order to remove these conditions?
In this situation, a couple must file a Form I-751 Joint Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the 90 days before the Conditional Green Card expires and show that they are still together.
But my marriage has ended, what can I do now?
There are several exceptions to the joint filing requirement for removing your conditions on your Green Card. Those exceptions include: that the marriage was still bona fide, meaning it was entered into in good faith, if your spouse was physically or emotionally abusive, or if you would experience extreme hardship if the conditional residence is terminated. Because filing a waiver to the joint filing requirement can often times be intricate, it’s important to contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible to avoid any potential delays, denials, and deportation.
What if my divorce hasn’t been finalized, yet?
USCIS’s policy is to request proof of divorce where an I-751 waiver is filed without proof that the marriage has been terminated. You may file the I-751 waiver before you have divorced, but USCIS will request the divorce, often within a few weeks or months of receiving the waiver. It is important to be ready to provide it when requested.
Just because your marriage ended, there is no need to despair. There are options for you. Divorce and getting acclimated to a new country are hard enough to deal with, find a good attorney who can help with your green card and divorce right away. It’s important to seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney before you give up on your immigration case or decide there is nothing you can do.