Are you currently in the United States on a visa that was granted to you based on your spouse’s application or citizenship? If so, your immigration status may be affected in the event that you should ever divorce or separate from your spouse. Exactly how your immigration status will be affected will vary depending on the specifics of your situation.
DIVORCE FOR CONDITIONAL RESIDENTS
If you used your spouse’s status as an American citizen or lawful permanent resident to immigrate to the United States within two years of your marriage, you are considered a “conditional resident.” Conditional resident status will last for two years, after which time you must file Form I-751 with the USCIS to remove the conditions of your residence. While this form is typically filed by both spouses with proof of the couple’s marriage, you may still be able to file an I-751 on your own if you can show that you were married in good faith and intended to live together as spouses when you were married.
While you will not lose your green card by divorcing your spouse, you may instead be forced to endure a longer waiting period before applying for naturalization. If divorced, you will need to wait five years, rather than three.
WHAT IF MY STATUS DEPENDS ON MY SPOUSE’S STATUS?
These situations can become more complicated in the event that your immigration status is dependent on your spouse’s current visa or application. Say, for example, you are married to an H-1B visa holder who has an approved adjustment of status application. If you divorce them before the priority date their application becomes current, your status as a “dependent” may be compromised, stripping you of the ability to obtain a green card under their application.
DIVORCE VS. LEGAL SEPARATION – WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Another major factor which dictates whether or not your immigration status will be affected is whether you are separated or officially divorced. While a divorce marks a legal end to a marriage, a separation will usually allow a couple to live apart from each other while still enjoying some of the benefits of being legally married. In some states, legal separations may be converted to divorces after a certain amount of time has passed. Since these laws will vary from state, it is imperative you consult with a knowledgeable attorney to understand your legal options.
At USILaw, our Montgomery County immigration attorneys have provided premier-quality legal guidance to countless individuals and business throughout the globe on a variety of immigration-related matters. Discuss your situation with us by calling our office today at (800) 335-8520.