U.S. immigration law is needlessly complex, and many people are afraid they will somehow jeopardize their immigration status when they get divorced. At Divorce Matters, we encourage men and women to thoroughly consider how a divorce will affect them, and this should include whether it will affect a person’s citizenship status.
The answer depends on where you are in the process of obtaining citizenship. Read on for more information.
You Divorce but are a Naturalized Citizen
If you have gone through the naturalization process and receive your certificate, then it doesn’t matter that you are divorced. You are a citizen. Citizenship is revoked only in very rare circumstances, such as committing fraud to obtain citizenship.
You Divorce During Your Two-Year Conditional Residency
United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) doesn’t immediately give people a green card if they have recently been married. Instead, you will be given conditional residency, which is like probation. If you divorce during this two-year period, then you will need to carefully analyze the situation.
In the 90 days before the two-year anniversary of conditional status, a foreign spouse must file Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence. This will make you a permanent resident. If you have not yet divorced but only separated, it might be possible to get your U.S. spouse to agree to execute this document with you.
However, if you have divorced, you can request a waiver of the joint petitioning requirement. According to USCIS, you might qualify if you entered into the marriage in good faith but have had your marriage annulled or divorced.
You Divorce after Your Two-Year Conditional Residency
You might not be a conditional resident, either because you were married for several years when you came to the U.S. or because your 2-year conditional residency has ended. In this situation, divorcing a U.S. spouse can lengthen the amount of time it takes to become a citizen. For example, you will not be eligible to apply to become a citizen until 5 years have passed. Had you stayed married to a U.S. citizen, you could have become a naturalized citizen after 3 years, but that option disappears if you divorce.
You Divorce While Your Spouse is Petitioning for Permanent Residence
You might be waiting for USCIS to act on the I-130 petition your spouse has filed. If you divorce and USCIS learns of it, then your petition is revoked. If you pretend to still be married in hopes of receiving a green card, you could be subject to prosecution, and USCIS can move to revoke any green card you were issued.
However, applicants might have other options if they want to stay in the U.S. You should meet with an immigration attorney to discuss.
You Divorce while in the U.S. on Temporary Status
Here, a divorce will automatically revoke any non-immigrant marriage-based visa. If you hope to stay in the U.S., you will need to apply for a different visa status before your divorce goes through.
Speak with a Denver Divorce Lawyer About Divorce and Citizenship
Immigration authorities continue to closely analyze whether a marriage was a sham, so getting divorced can have major consequences. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation about your individual situation.