Conditional Green Card Renewal After Divorce: Must-Know FAQs
A conditional green card allows a non-citizen to enter and stay in the United States after marrying to a US national. Conditional resident status is valid for two years, and the non-citizen spouse must apply for removing conditional status on the green card within that period. To be given a conditional green card couples usually are married for less than two years and the marriage must be entered in good faith.
What will happen to the conditional green card or residential status if separation or divorce occurs within that period? Does it mean the non-citizen will be deported? Will it impair his or her ability to apply for removing conditional residency? Does it stop him or her from getting permanent US resident status? An expert immigration attorney is an excellent source and support in such a scenario.
Here are must-know FAQs about the renewal of conditional green card into a permanent one after divorce in Texas.
What is in the law?
To remove the conditional residency clause in the green card and obtain permanent resident status, the law requires the couple to file a joint petition. This spells trouble in case of separation or annulment of the marriage. Since immigration authorities believe that people use marriages as a way to get US green cards, divorce or separation is likely spark suspicion. The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments made in 1986 brought into existence the two-year conditional green card. When the two-year conditional card is within 90 days from expiring, the immigrant can file to have the conditions removed.
Who is the final authority to make a decision?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the sole authority to approve any application its officials consider real, legal, and valid. It is up to you to convince them that your marriage was not a fraud to obtain US resident status.
No doubt divorce or separation is likely to raise eyebrows, but it is not entirely impossible in a genuine marriage and USCIS recognizes it. Their only concern is finding out fraudulent marriages and they feel the need to investigate any case of a divorced or separated spouse applying for removal of conditions on residency.
The presentation of your application, documents, evidence, and your representation to immigrant officials matter a lot. Talk to an experienced Houston immigration attorney to prepare your application and guide you on dos and don’ts.
Does divorce impact the non-citizen status?
Whether a 2-year-old-green card holder has applied for 10-year- card or about to apply, separation or divorce does not impact his immediate status. The non-citizen continues to stay in the country until the green card is valid. Any conversion application to permanent residency must be made within 90 days of the expiry of the existing green card. During the time an application under consideration, there is no bar on the staying of a non-citizen.
What happens if divorce happens before you apply for removal of conditional status?
Separation or divorce before you file your application does not mean your dream of staying in the United States is over. You can still file the petition however, you need to submit the proof of marriage and a request for a waiver from a joint filing by your spouse with the USCIS. Documents supporting your claims for a waiver must be attached. Discuss acceptable documents for waiver claim with a Houston visa attorney proficient in handling similar cases in Texas.
What are the grounds for seeking a joint filing waiver?
There are three grounds on which one can seek the waiver from joint filing of I-751 petition.
- Divorce or separation after a marriage entered in “good faith.”
- Physical/ emotional abuse or cruelty forcing the non-citizen spouse to live separately.
- Likelihood of extreme hardship on the non-citizen spouse if deported.
Each of these conditions is accepted only if the conditional resident spouse can furnish evidence. Consulting an expert Texas immigration lawyer can help you explore informal options to obtain a waiver on compassionate grounds. This may include citation of discrimination in the home country, future needs of children, and the threat to life if deported.
What if separation or divorce happens after the joint filing of I-751 petition?
The non-citizens spouse needs to file an application seeking a waiver from USCIS immediately. Special attention should be paid to the timing and communication with the agency. At the same time, you have to furnish documents as ample proof. It is always advisable to get the help of a reliable Houston immigration attorney to make sure you are not on the wrong side.
Is it possible to seek a waiver even after the expiry of the two-year green card without I-751 petition filing?
According to the existing law, any I-751 petition should be made to the USCIS 90 days before the expiry of the conditional green card. Any filing after the lapse of the green card requires a robust explanation of the reason for the same. Like with a normal application, you can also seek a waiver.
What proof to submit in case of an abusive marriage?
There is a special provision called self-petition allowed under certain circumstances. An experienced Texas immigration lawyer can explain about it. A non-citizen can resort to self-petition citing rights granted under the Violence Against Women Act. This helps you secure a waiver and renew your green card while removing conditions on residency.
The end of a marriage does not mean the end of the dream of migrants. As with good-faith marriage, they have a chance with valid divorce or separation following an abusive marriage. The only thing is that they have to know dos and don’ts while navigating the I-751 petition process with the support of a Houston immigration lawyer. Get in touch with Zavala Texas Law to know more on how to renew conditional green card even after divorce.