If you’re a Conditional Permanent Resident in the United States and your green card is nearing its expiration date, it’s time to file Form I-751, Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residency. You probably know that the purpose of this application is to prove to the US government that you and your US citizen spouse still share a loving marriage — so what do you do if you have recently become separated or divorced? Luckily, there is still an option to file your case and maintain your status in the US.
Once you have determined that you are eligible to file this application, you should follow most of the same steps that you would if you were filing jointly with your spouse. The main difference will be that you likely won’t have as much recent evidence of your relationship to provide since you most likely are not living together and may even be out of contact with each other.
The good news is that this lack of evidence can be supplemented with a divorce waiver, which is essentially just a very detailed and honest statement about your marriage and how it came to an end. An attorney can help prepare this declaration, which should include a timeline of your relationship from start to finish and important points about when things began to change for the worse.
In addition to your personal sworn declaration, it is a good idea to include the following items to support your application:
- Sworn statements from friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors who can give detailed information about your genuine marriage and explain that it dissolved for personal reasons despite the fact that it was originally entered into in good faith;
- Evidence relating to the cause(s) of the dissolution of your marriage;
- Evidence that you are still in contact with or on good terms with your ex-spouse’s family or friends;
- Joint and shared official documents from when you were still together, such as shared lease agreement, utility bills, bank accounts, etc. up until the time that you separated;
- Photos together, proof of correspondence, and other evidence that you were genuinely together up until your separation.
It is extremely common for I-751 applications with divorce waivers to be issued RFEs or interview notices. If this happens to you, it is important to be prepared with additional supplemental evidence to provide to USCIS in case they are not satisfied with the original documents you provided.
During your interview, you may be grilled on how and why your marriage ended, which can be extremely upsetting and difficult for many people. You should be mentally prepared to answer some tough questions and bring up some painful memories. This is never a fun process, but it is unfortunately a common requirement for proving to the government that your marriage was not entered into solely for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.