How Long After I get My Green Card can I Divorce? Overview

How long after I get my green card can I divorce? is a popular question that many immigrants have in their minds when their blissful marriage unfortunately starts to break down. The answer to this question depends largely on the type of green card that you have. There are two types of green cards: 1) a ten-year green card; and 2) a two-year conditional green card.

The type of green card that you have is written on the green card itself. If you look at the green card, you will see a “resident since” date and an “expiration date.” If the difference between the two dates is 10 years, it means you have a regular green card. If the difference between the two dates is 2 years, it means that you have a conditional green card.

Divorce After Getting a 10-year Green Card: What are the Consequences?

If you have a 10-year green card, a divorce should have very little effect on your immigration status. You are not going to automatically lose your green card because of the divorce. However, in some circumstances, if the divorce occurs shortly after your case is approved, USCIS may suspect that your marriage was fraudulent. Marriage fraud is illegal and if USCIS can prove that your marriage was fake, the government could start a deportation case against you, to revoke the green card.

USCIS is not generally keeping track of all the marriages that end in a divorce, after a 10- year green card is issued. USCIS usually finds out that your marriage ended in a divorce, when you apply for U.S. citizenship or naturalization. You will have to write on the N-400 application how many times you were married, the date you were married and the date you obtained a divorce. You also must bring certified copies of divorce decrees to the citizenship interview with you. If the immigration officer sees that you were married many times and that each former spouse petitioned for you, he or she may start to believe that you were only getting married to get a green card. A reasonable explanation as to why the marriage ended in a divorce can quell doubts. Marriages usually breakdown because of abuse, incarceration, incompatibility, cheating and financial difficulty. Many people get divorced after obtaining a ten-year green card, which is reflected in the high divorce rate in the United States. Despite this fact, many of these marriages were real. Some immigrant divorcees have successfully obtained U.S. citizenship.

Divorce After Getting a Two-Year Conditional Green Card: What You Should Know?

A conditional green card, also known as a 2-year green card, is issued to a married person who has been sponsored for permanent residency by their U.S citizen or U.S. permanent resident spouse. In addition, the conditional permanent resident must have been married for less than 2-years when USCIS approved the case.

Within 90 days before the conditional green card expires, you must apply to remove the conditions on your green card or risk losing conditional permanent residence status.

This is done by filing form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions. If you are still married, you and your spouse should sign and file the form together. This is called “filing jointly.”

If your marriage ended in a divorce, you will have to file the form alone by obtaining a “waiver” of the joint filing requirement. You should not file the bare form but it should be supported with sufficient evidence that shows that when you entered the marriage, you and your spouse intended to establish a life together. From the time you got married, you should have started saving documents related to your marriage. Bank statements, credit card bills, lease agreements, photographs at family gatherings and electric bills are some of the documents that you may use to prove that your marriage was real.

You will not automatically lose the conditional green card because of the divorce, however if you did not properly document your marriage, the immigration officer will question whether your marriage was real and you will have a hard time proving your case.

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Should I Hire a Green Card Divorce Lawyer?

A good immigration and divorce lawyer can help you foresee problems with your case before it occurs. Many cases are won because the green card holder got a lawyer who prepared the case well and set it up for success.

My name is Cheryl Fletcher and I have been an immigration attorney, since 2015. I have helped hundreds of green card holders through the divorce process. I regularly take on and win green card divorce cases. I charge a reasonable fee for my services. When deciding if you should hire a lawyer, you will have to look at your finances to see if this is possible. More importantly, you should make the decision based on whether you can afford to make a mistake with your case and risk being deported.

If you would like to speak with me about your case, I’m available for 30-minutes to listen, explain your rights and provide you with the best legal strategy to help you achieve your goals. Take the first step to getting legal help, by clicking the orange button below.

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Fletcher Law Blog, Divorce after permanent green card issued: How does this affect immigration status?, Accessed May 30, 2018.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “After a Green Card is Granted” Accessed May 16, 2018.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Conditional Permanent Residence” Accessed May 16, 2018.