At ZafiroLaw, we practice immigration and divorce law because of how easily they impact one another. For example, imagine you are in the middle of the application process to become a permanent legal resident (aka green card holder). Though there are different ways to go about this, you are working toward a marriage-based green card. What happens if your marriage ends while you are in the application process? If you have already received one, will you have issues renewing it? These are common and valid questions, and we put out this blog to give you some additional clarity.
Green Cards & Marriage
Before we explain further, you must know that there are two different types of green cards associated with a marriage-based application. They are:
- A conditional temporary two-year green card
- A permanent and renewable green card (which is valid for ten years)
The distinction between the two is essential. If you have already received a permanent green card, a divorce will likely not impact you. When you renew your card, there aren’t any questions regarding your marital status. However, the same cannot be said for conditional green cards.
A conditional two-year green card is not automatically renewable. Among other things, you are required to submit documents to prove that your marriage is bona fide. If you are no longer married or are in the middle of divorce, you should strongly consider hiring legal counsel. The reason is that the USCIS will want to see that your marriage was genuine and wasn’t being used for immigration reasons. Secondly, if you are in the middle of a divorce that hasn’t been finalized, your attorney may be able to get your conditional green card extended.
Unfortunately, if you have not received either type of green card, the application process stops if you get divorced during the application process.
Why You Should Reach Out to Legal Counsel
There’s more to you and your situation than can be expressed on an application. Although we discussed divorce and green cards above, we didn’t point out that there are several valid reasons why someone would want a divorce—regardless of what their immigration status is. For example, are you experiencing domestic violence? Your attorney will take the time to understand you and your reasons for pursuing a divorce.
At ZafiroLaw, we will work with you to determine if you have any other legal avenues to consider. Victims of domestic violence can self-petition for legal permanent residence due to the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA). Other options include:
- Bridge visas
- Finding another way to pursue a green card
- Going to college
- Finding an employer to petition for you
If you are a noncitizen in the process of a divorce, contact us to set up a consultation. We have extensive experience handling both immigration and family law matters and how they relate to one another. We look forward to hearing from you.