By: Katherine On: December 8, 2016 In: Uncategorized Comments: 48
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Divorce is complicated enough — but it becomes even more complicated when the end of your marriage could affect your immigration status.

If you’re getting a green card through your spouse but you divorce before becoming a permanent resident, will immigration officials void your application?

Divorce, Foreign-Born Spouses & Green Cards

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that close to 400,000 US citizens marry foreign nationals each year. These US citizens must take steps to secure green cards for their foreign-born spouses.

Immigration law classifies spouses of US citizens as “immediate relatives.” Immediate relatives of US citizens have a much faster route to getting a green card than most other US immigrants.

While you may not want to dwell on what seems like an unpleasant or unlikely situation, it is important to be aware of the ways the divorce process can affect your immigration status.

Without a US citizen sponsor, an application for permanent residency may be denied.

Translating Foreign Personal Documents

First things first: when applying for US citizenship it is vital that you translate all necessary personal documents into English — this includes both your marriage certificate and, if the marriage dissolves prior to securing citizenship, your divorce certificate.

Other important documents US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) require include your birth certificate, visas and passport, and other immigration paperwork. When requesting a marriage certificate translation, a birth certificate translation, or any other personal document translation for immigration purposes, make sure the company you work with is able to certify your documents.

Certification of personal documents is important during immigration applications because simple translations are not considered legal documents and will not therefore not be accepted by USCIS.

At Legal Language, we have more than 35 years of experience translating and certifying personal documents for immigration. Our professional translators are familiar with USCIS translation requirements, and can translate, certify, and notarize your documents to their specifications.

Divorced & Staying in the US

If your marriage does indeed end in divorce prior to your securing a green card or full US citizenship, you may be concerned that this will result in a denied petition or even deportation. However, most foreign-born spouses going through the divorce process will be granted conditional permanent residence if they do not choose to withdraw their immigration application.

How is this possible? By filing a waiver.

If You Were in the Process of Getting a Green Card

If you were in the process of getting a green card before the marriage ended, you will not be able to secure one based on marriage. However, if the marriage was a good faith union, you can apply for a waiver of termination.

One or more of the following criteria must be met for the waiver to be valid and accepted by USCIS:

  • Proof that the marital union was valid, such as photographs, evidence of shared property or leases, joint bills, and other evidence of a life together.
  • Proof that the immigrant spouse will suffer extreme hardship if sent back to his or her country of origin, such as a statement about the life built in the US thus far.
  • Proof of having suffered extreme cruelty or abuse from a US citizen spouse, which can include sworn statements and affidavits from neighbors and family members.

Examples of the above proof along with the waiver will establish that the marriage was valid and that you should not be denied permanent resident status.

If You Were in the Process of Securing Permanent US Citizenship

If you have already obtained a conditional green card before the marriage ends, you have conditional permanent residence. You will need to file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence, before your first green card expires.

Form I-751 has a built-in waiver for those who have divorced their US citizen spouses, but USCIS will still require proof that your union was a good faith relationship and not just for immigration purposes.

If You Already Obtained Permanent Residence Status

If you have already obtained unconditional permanent residence before your divorce, the only immigration issue that may occur is a delay in obtaining full citizenship status.

If your marriage to a US citizen ends within a period of three years, you may have to wait until you reach five total years of permanent residence before being able to file an application to get rid of your immigration status once and for all and become a US citizen.

Therefore, as long as your marriage was not fraudulent, divorce should not affect the immigration process.

Note: This page is for general informational purposes only. LLS cannot give personal advice to any individual regarding immigration status. Please contact USCIS with any questions.

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    • Emmanuel Appiah
    • June 10, 2017
    • Reply

    Hello am Emmanuel, I just got married to my wife who is a us citizen and works for the state as nurse. But before our marriage she had married and divorce 4 years ago. Our marriage was this year on the 28 and 29 of April, 2017 in Ghana. What I want to know is that can he file for me and when can he do that? Thank you so much.

    • debi
    • July 20, 2017
    • Reply

    what are your options if you marry someone and find out 5 years later that they married for citizenship and you divorce???

      • Emily
      • August 27, 2017
      • Reply

      When you find out, let me know because I’m going through that myself. I sponsored my husband from 2010 til he got his citizen in 2016. Eleven months later, he’s divorcing me. During our marriage he was certain to buy “separate property” (with marital funds) to have himself all set up. I feel like such a fool.

        • LB
        • April 02, 2018
        • Reply

        Same here, he’s just gotten his legal status and isn’t the man I married. He’s looking for any excuse to walk., I’m just waiting. It’s bad because I’m desapabled now and can’t work. I have no idea what in the hell im going to do. 38yrs old and not good for anything or anyone.

          • Mary AGHEDO
          • August 08, 2018
          • Reply

          Also remember immgration can denied him his papers
          So my dea as bob marley said stand up stand up for your rights
          Don’t give up without a fight.
          Peace, May God bless

        • michael
        • May 11, 2018
        • Reply

        Terrible. Why not document everything and take to the immigration? his citizenship can be canceled

        • JRM
        • August 30, 2018
        • Reply

        Same here. I married an illegal Mexican immigrant only to have her not advance her life. Now she had an affair, and filed for divorce alleging domestic violence. after 10 years of marriage and three kids.

        End result?

        She lives with our three kids happily while discouraging the kids to seek me out all to the tune of $2800.00 that I must give her every month by court order. And I am practically HOMELESS. forced to live with a woman who is also abusive and exploitative towards me and whom I care for very little. The new woman is just using me to help her with her two teenage boys who do “shit” , “nothing” around the house just play video games all day. I have to pay this woman_who also doesn’t want to get a real job a $1000; what does that leave me with – in the Silicon Valley ok? HOMELESS and penniless by mid-month.

          • Gloria
          • October 07, 2018
          • Reply

          So sorry to hear that. The USCIS officer could not have any hint that this marriage was just to get her green card, since you have children together. Even in the marriages of regular US citizens this occurs. Getting married is like getting a lottery ticket. You can get a winner ticket and live happily ever after, or not. She cannot deny you the visitation of your children. Try to get therapy for yourself as well as for the children with you, as a family, so as you can confirm them you love them They will grow up, and will understand better this sad situation of their parents separated as they mature. Good Luck!

        • Erica
        • November 20, 2018
        • Reply

        It is not enough proof because you did spend an anount of time together. Marriage to a foreign that ends in divorce will always lead us to believe that we were used. But in reality that happens with anybody, and so just because they become secure in life and suddenly decide to divorce us, doesn’t mean they used all. My advice is to move on dont dwell on it.

        • joseph
        • December 04, 2018
        • Reply

        Something similar here with me. I married her in 2012 and became citizen in 2016 but divorced her just before applying citizenship. The divorce was becasue of some natural reasons and we had a miscarriage as well besides 2 step kids. Now she is telling everybody that i married her just to get green card. in divorce i gave her the whole marital property as well but since she know i found other girl and happy in my life, she is sending me threats that she will go to immigration and complain if i dont obey her and spend time with her too.

      • Hussein
      • September 17, 2017
      • Reply

      I got my divorce and June the 2nd 2017 animal New York citizen and I want to get married to my girlfriend and I would like to know how long does it take to immigration to process her paper thank you

    • Nusrat jahan
    • August 01, 2017
    • Reply

    I am married a citizenin 2016.about one year.he apply petition for me.we are not live together because his Family does not like me.he is only one son that’s why he doesn’t leave his family and stay with me.that why we decided until his family will accept me.we live different places.he is citizens from new York .so he live in new York and I live in california.we rent a room in california together sometime he comes to meet me and sometimes I am going to new York. he apply petition for me this January 2017 in california.so can i get green card.without stay together long time.I have evidence of bank account,life insurance,lease document.marriage certificate,together photos,lots of people know us.now immigration send a letter for evidence.we send this paper.my marriage is not fraud.it’s a real marriage.but only problem his family.in love him,and he loves me.plz let me know about my getting green card.

      • Gloria
      • October 07, 2018
      • Reply

      The fact that you do not live together is going to be a big red flag for the USCIS officers. They can deny your case and you guys will have to appeal. Which will take more time and it is expensive. You will have to talk to your minister, iman, religious-spiritual leader to prepare a statement on your behalf to be taken with you guys when you have to attend the interview. It is not an excuse to say, your husband do not want to abandon his parents, unless they are too old and do not have the means to live by themselves. Why do people get married? Because they are in love. And when a couple is really in love do not conceive the idea to live separately.

    • Mitchell Krulock
    • August 02, 2017
    • Reply

    Hello, I am a US Marine who recently transferred back to the US from my 2 year tour in Okinawa Japan and my Japanese fiancé holds a permanent resident status from her previous marriage to another Marine. In 2011 they had married, in 2012 she gained her temp visa and moved to the US, in 2013 they were ordered back to Okinawa, in 2015 she gained her permanent resident status as she was considered still in US territory due to being married to a US Marine. He cheated on her around 6 months later and and they separated trying to work it out then divorced in Oct 2016. She wants to come back to the US and her marriage ending was beyond her control.

    She has been out of US territory for as of now, 10 months with 2 to go before we are required to file for a Returning Resident Visa in order for her to be able to return to the US. She has 3 kids as well from that previous marriage, all 3 are US citizens. The problem is I don’t know if they will allow her to return while not having any family ties or work in the US.

    My questions are these: Is she able to return to the US on her own without USCIS and the State Dep denying her due to no ties to the US after filing a Returning resident Visa that states no ties to the US? Can she return having married someone else(me in the future) and have it written in on the Returning Resident Visa form INSTEAD of her now previous husband? Will they deny her returning because of that? Does she have to file to change her status first from married to single? Is her return possible this way or do we have to go through the process of marriage and then applying for a temp visa all over again and then a new green card(permanent resident status) afterward?

    I appreciate any information you can give me.

      • Martin Krulock
      • September 10, 2017
      • Reply

      Call USCIS 1-800-375-5283. Take your time explaining it calmly and fully.

      And call your dad. Lol. 8103385569
      My wife just became a full US citizen Thursday.

    • Clara
    • September 06, 2017
    • Reply

    my friend was married for more than 2/1.2 years and the divorce proceedings will take another 6 months but her conditional green card was just obtained due to delay at USCIS. Due to this delay their marriage suffered .She lived in another country . . She was born and brought up there. She cannot go back there because she cancelled her residence visa and also resigned from her present job and sold her car and left to live with him in USA. I would like to know what will happen to her conditional green card?

    • Steven
    • September 07, 2017
    • Reply

    Have been married over 3.5 years. I am a US Citizen and met my wife while working in Eastern Europe. We have been Stateside for 2.5 years and went through the process to gain her resident status. That took 10 months and about $2000. I was overseas 4 years prior to this so my parents and I both filed together to complete her application. Now she is working at a good paying tech job and wants a divorce immediately. No reasons other than “she isn’t happy” and it is going to be final prior to her late January 2018 date.given by immigration that marks 2 years, I believe. I feel used, betrayed, and that she planned this all along. The fact that there probably is someone else she is involved with further intensifies the hurt. It all came about suddenly and at her request. The divorce will be final before the end of 2017. We have not children, real property, or struggles. I am not trying to salvage the relationship but my parents and I feel used and lied to. What is the law and usual result for her now that she does and has had a resident status and social security card without restrictions and a valid state driver’s license? Thanks.

      • Joe
      • October 21, 2017
      • Reply

      Same issue would love to know how this works. In the middle of it now.

      • Gloria
      • October 07, 2018
      • Reply

      Provided that she can prove that she entered in the marriage in good faith, she can file for another green card, this time she will get the 10 year green card based on the fact that she is divorced. She will have to wait until she is 5 years with her green cards (counting from the date she got her first green card) to apply for her citizenship. Then she can marry and file for any foreigner she left behind,
      If you have any suspicious that this was a marriage just to get the green card, you will need documents, photos, letters, etc. to prove it and send it to the USCIS authorities. They may cancel her green card and deport her.

    • Michael Stith
    • September 10, 2017
    • Reply

    I met a woman in the Philippines in March 2016, We got along great and I met her family as well. We decided that I would apply for a Fiance’ Visa for her to come to the USA so that we can marry and apply for her Green Card. We married within one month and hired an Immigration Atty to file the forms for her Green Card. We just found out that there will be a delay and that she will have to get interviewed sometime over the next several months. Our marriage is not going well, she does not like my daughter at all and we argue about every 3 days. She claims that I did not meet all of the promises that I made her and is unhappy. I want to just pay for her return to the Philippines now and not complete the Green Card process. My question is do we have to get a divorce first here in the US or can she just return to the Philippines and can I file something that would annul the marriage without going through a legal divorce. Her marriage to me is not reported In the Philippines because she did not receive her Social Security Number or a Temporary Work Permit , but my marriage to her is recorded here in the US. What do I have to do if she decides to abandon me and return to the Philippines before she completes and receives her Green Card, Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you, MIchael Stith.

    • EJ
    • September 14, 2017
    • Reply

    what are your options if you married someone and bring in US,and 6 month only she filled a divorce.she can stay in US?

      • Milcah Roberto
      • November 21, 2017
      • Reply

      hi Ej.. i was in your same situation,, anyways do you get any answer from uscis?


        • raffi
        • February 04, 2018
        • Reply

        Hello I’m in the same situation as you are what they told you can you help me please

    • Gustavo
    • October 07, 2017
    • Reply

    i married a person with a tourist visa less than 2 years ago, we never submit any papers to apply for residency, now i’m applying for a divorce, we have a 1-1/2 year boy, what are my rights and what happen to her legal status in the USA???
    Thank you

    • LJ Ashemuke
    • November 07, 2017
    • Reply

    I married a Nigerian and just found out that he lied on his application. He has 2 kids and a girl back in Nigeria that he plans to marry and bring here. He told me he doesn’t love me as his wife but only as a friend but we have been married since 5/21/2014 and we could not get his visa until Dec. 2015 I am hurt by all this and don’t know what to do. I understand I can get an annulment if I can prove he scammed me into marriage for a visa which I feel he did. But we have to be living apart and he is still hear living in a different room because we have bills together and he is helping in that area. I also found out that he has slept with others that he works with. I am so sick and feel so stupid. I am at a loss on what to do. He just filled in September to have is condition removed. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

      • LJ Ashemuke
      • November 07, 2017
      • Reply

      oh and He went back in the summer to Nigeria and had another child that makes 3 with this women.

      • Gloria
      • October 07, 2018
      • Reply

      You can always report this to the USCIS, better if you have documents, photos, etc. showing he entered into the marriage just to get his green card. That is fraud.

    • Milcah Roberto
    • November 21, 2017
    • Reply

    hi got married january 7,2017,with my u.s citizen husband, and my status still pending in USCIS for my green card,my husband cheating on me and we got divorced Nov.12.2017. theirs an emotionally abused in our relationship..
    how it may affect to my status right now.?what is the best thing to do.? currently living now in Virginia.

    thank you in advance for the reply…


      • Marivel Diaz
      • May 16, 2018
      • Reply

      I have question for you, I just got married 2016 oct, since 2018 my husband cheat on me two time even since 2017 I have green card and Can I renew green card for next year 2019. I am about divorce him.. thanks you!

    • Lucia
    • December 19, 2017
    • Reply

    Hi, me and my husband are married two months. I havent file for green card or permanent residency yet. We decided to get divorce, my question is if my divorce will affect my way back home to my country. I wanna leave from USA but I am worried I will never come back for vacations. Is it some steps how to avoide that?

    • RA
    • December 21, 2017
    • Reply

    HI, I got a temporary residence through a marriage with an american citizen but I’m already divorced after one year of being together. I have to apply for the permanent residency in one year more. What can it happen if I get married again with another US Citizen during this period while I’m waiting for my next application? Can this next marriage affect to my approval for the permanent residency? Please help me…

    • susy
    • January 12, 2018
    • Reply

    hey. I cam to the USA with green card that i got it because of lottery. the time i won the lottery i was single, but while doing all document works for immigration i got married. and i got a green card for my husband too. now after four years we are divorcing. is my spouse is gonna be in trouble for getting citizenship when we finished the 5 years limitation for citizenship?

    • Stephen Daniels
    • January 30, 2018
    • Reply

    Hello, I am from Nigeria, got married five years ago but all these while i never lived with my wife for a month because of the nature of our jobs. suddenly she requested for a divorce because she claimed is was not happy. The court has granted her divorce. Prior to this, we had attended an interview based on the diversity lottery but we were denied. Now my mom a US citizen has filed for me her son, and her petition was approved, all documents required submitted. Am waiting for my interview date to be communicated to me. Do i have any other challenges ahead based on the consular officer’s interview? or what should i expect? i will appreciate all relevant answers. thanks.

    • Duvinka Jordan
    • April 10, 2018
    • Reply

    I married a DR immigrant and our marriage didn’t work out. I filed for divorce within 6 months of marriage. We never made a lease together, we have no bills together nor joint accounts. We only have some pictures together and we were never involved in any domestic violence issues. Also, I’m not sure how difficult life would be upon her returning to DR. Can she still file the waiver and get her permanent residency?

    • joyce Alloka
    • May 16, 2018
    • Reply

    I have a friend who needs some answers. She got married and her immigration was denied because they didn’t have enough evidence to prove that the marriage was real. She never got her green card but the divorce is now final. She is now married again and she wants to know if her new husband can file for her?

    • noely
    • May 31, 2018
    • Reply

    My friend has been married for 2 years in FL before marriage she purchased a property in her name only …her husband moved to Canada for a job,but does not help her financially and she wants to divorce how does her situation stays as a resident since she has not got a green card which she does not want to wait because she does not want to be seen that was with him for the green card?

    • Edem
    • June 03, 2018
    • Reply

    My Question is… Am from Ghana and I was once Married to a white American she was 20years older than me after we got married she went back to the states and Abandoned our marriage and I find out she was cheating on me with another man in the states. So I file for a Divorce while my divorce was in process I met my new wife on Facebook she is also White from the states and we where friends she came to visit me in Ghana and she went back to the states my divorce got approved after she left few days after and she came back in 5 months and we got married and she file a petition and we got approved by the USCIS after we got approved she came to Ghana again which makes it the 3rd time she was here. But my question is since my first wife didn’t file a petition at all would my Marriage to her effect my petiton at the interview in US embassy in Ghana

    • umer salahuddin
    • July 12, 2018
    • Reply

    Dear Sir,

    I got married to a permanent residence of United states how ever my marriage ended and i did not get the invitation from the US. Now i want to apply for Student visa will this effect in getting student visa please help me

    • Corrinna Booton
    • July 17, 2018
    • Reply

    I see all these questions asking advice but where are the answers???

    • Crystal Matthews’s
    • August 23, 2018
    • Reply

    I have a friend who is seeking citizenship. He is the immigrant and his wife he finds out cannot have children. He has his SSN but not his green card yet. He is wanting to divorce her and marry someone else he fell in love with outside of their marriage. What will happen and what can he do to make a smooth transition?

      • Gloria
      • October 07, 2018
      • Reply

      He will need to get his green card first. If the marriage does not have at least 2 years of celebrated it will be a Conditional Green Card. Citizenship? He will need to provide his valid green card and show proof of a marriage in good faith if he wants to file for his citizenship based upon 3 years married and living together with his US. citizen wife.

    • Donna D. Daria
    • January 05, 2019
    • Reply

    my husband was abusive after receiving he’s green card in Nigeria. we have been divorced since 1992. Can his green card be revoked?

    • Anne
    • January 05, 2019
    • Reply

    Hi i have concern on my petition my husband is a green card holder and obtain because his father petition him and then meet a local girl in US they get married then after 7 years got divorced.. then we and my husband meet and get married and partitioned me. My concern is there any thing can affect my petition because he of the divorce he undergo with his exwife and make my petition longer to process?

    • Bollys
    • February 13, 2019
    • Reply

    Please i need an urgent response/ advice on my case. Sometime in 2014, i applied for a tourist visa with form ds160 though I was denied the visa but in d form i filled married coz i av a girl child from a lady as at then and it was just a mere family introduction but the marriage wasn’t legalized. Later, in 2016 the lady is now married to someone else with another child. Now, I av a sister who petitioned for me and all relevant fees have been paid, what is required is completing ds260 form. Now am confused as to what to fill as marital status in my ds260 form. I intend filling single, as i am,presently and still hope to fill my daughters name won’t this count against me as at the embassy as am totally confused. Your urgent response,pls

    • Florette
    • July 16, 2019
    • Reply

    I’m a immigrant who got faith and true marriage with a us citizen, my application to get green card still pending since 2017 we got married , but right now I’m going through a lot of things with him and I want to divorce , please just want to know if the divorce will affect my situation in USA?

    • Simone Angove
    • July 17, 2019
    • Reply

    My Husbands children are USA Citizens and would like to sponsor us. I am not the children’s mother but we are married, Can they also sponsor me too?

    • August 12, 2019
    • Reply

    I married my husband in July of 2018, and two months later he moved out because I was taking my time with the process of getting his green card. He tried to come back,but I wouldn’t help him. So he wants me to file for divorce. My question is can he get into some type of trouble for trying to use me, and why is he so afraid of filing for divorce since he is the one who left the marriage.

    • CSR Disability
    • August 13, 2019
    • Reply

    Your website content is very useful for the people and also informative. Users really wants like that effective information which you given. so please keep it up your work.

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