Understanding Conditional Residency
Going through a divorce or separation as an immigrant in the United States can provide several challenges, including your immigration status. Unfortunately, this may mean that your relationship could significantly impact your ability to stay in the United States. But how?
Someone who is lawfully in the United States through a marriage visa and has been married for less than two years is often considered a “conditional permanent resident.” Under this classification, the immigrant receives a green card that is valid for only two years instead of ten. Although they can petition for removal of these conditions with a Form I-751 within 90 days of the green card expiration date, getting divorced within this timeframe could indicate that there was wrongdoing and affect your ability to file.
Why is Immigration Status Affected?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes fraud cases very seriously and works diligently to ensure that immigrant couples understand the requirements when going through the process. Although a divorce may not seem like a clear indicator of any wrongdoing in terms of marriage fraud, it does have the potential to raise red flags.
However, this does not always mean that the spouse whose residency is dependent on the other will have to be deported. In cases where a divorce or separation occurs, the immigrant spouse can choose to file a waiver with the Form I-751 that allows them to file separately. In doing so, however, additional evidence may need to be obtained to prove that the marriage was “bona fide” or done in good faith.
These cases can be lengthy and complicated if you aren’t familiar with the process or prepared with the paperwork. And since the conditional green card has a shorter expiration date, time is of the essence. For your best chance at having a successful case, contact an experienced immigration attorney today.