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Will I Lose My Green Card If I Separate from My U.S. Citizen Spouse?

If you have been issued a green card through your U.S. citizen spouse and are now filing for divorce, you may wonder if this will have any sort of consequence on your green card. The short answer is, the likelihood of losing your green card after separating from your U.S. citizen spouse is very low


When you are first issued your green card through your U.S. citizen spouse’s petition (Form I-130), you are either issued a ten-year green card if you have been married to your U.S. citizen spouse for two or more years or a conditional two-year green card if you’ve been married for less than two years. 

 

If you separate from your U.S. citizen spouse and hold a ten-year green card, you do not need to take any extra step when renewing your green card with Form I-90. In fact, you have the privilege of petitioning for another applicant or file for naturalization (Form N-400) after holding your green card for five or more years. When renewing your green card you also have the option to change your name on the green card or file to replace it before it’s expiration date with your new name. 


What if I am issued a two year conditional green card? 

If you have been married to your U.S. citizen spouse for less than two years and are issued a conditional 2 year green card, you will need to apply to remove conditions (Form I-751) on your green card and apply for an additional waiver for the joint filing requirement if you choose to separate from your U.S. citizen spouse.

 

As a conditional green card holder you must request to apply for the waiver and USCIS must approve the waiver to fully remove conditions on your green card.

 

The purpose of the waiver is to prove to USCIS that you entered the marriage in good faith. To prove you were engaged in a Bona fide marriage you’ll need to provide extra evidence such as proof that you combined your finances with your U.S. citizen spouse before separating, had a mortgage together, joint bank accounts, have children together, among other supporting evidence.

 

To learn more, please click here. This evidence is essential to prove to USCIS that you entered the marriage in good faith and did not marry a U.S. citizen for the sole purpose of gaining an immigration benefit. If you find yourself in this situation we highly encourage you to contact an immigration attorney to help you file a strong and compelling case.

 

Are there any other consequences if I separate from my U.S. citizen spouse?

If you are a permanent resident and separate from your U.S. citizen spouse, you will need to wait a longer period to naturalize, if that is in your plans of pursuing. Permanent residents who are married to US Citizens are eligible to naturalize after three years of obtaining their green card. If you are not married to your U.S. citizen spouse or obtained your green card trough an employment-based petition, you are subject to a five year wait period before applying for naturalization. It is also very common to be questioned by USCIS officers about your past relationship during your naturalization interview. 

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