Can a U.S. citizen try and stop getting the conditions removed on their spouse’s Green Card if they decide that they don’t want to be married to them anymore? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking immigration attorney practicing law here in St. Louis, Missouri. Our office spends a tremendous amount of time trying to get Green Cards for people and one of the main things that we work on are spouse-based Visas, so a lot of the times we’re working with the U.S. citizen who wants to either bring their spouse here from overseas or to get their spouse a Green Card while they’re here in the United States and to do that through a spouse-based marriage.
We have been involved in situations where the couple has just met and gotten married and they’ve decided to get the Green Card. We’ve gone ahead and done all the paperwork, obtained that Green Card for them and then some time passes by and the U.S. citizen comes to us and says, “I’m not so sure that I want to stay married to this person.” Now in those situations, we would be conflicted out, so if we had handled the underlying marriage-based Visa and Green Card application, we can’t get involved in a dispute between the husband and the wife or the spouses, so what happens then?
What we would do is we would refer them out to another immigration attorney. We generally do not get involved in trying to keep someone from keeping their Green Card. What is it exactly that I’m talking about? In a typical Green Card case, if the couple has been married for less than two years then the U.S. citizen, spouse and the immigrant have to file another form at the end of the two years or actually right before the end of the two year anniversary of the Green Card and they have to ask to get the conditions removed.
You’re not given a permanent, permanent Green Card after a spouse-based Green Card is approved. You’re given a conditional one which means after two years you have to demonstrate that you’re still married, that you’re still together. You have to show that you have a joined life together and that the two of your still have a legitimate marriage.
If the U.S. citizen doesn’t want to play ball anymore, if they don’t want to participate in that part of the process, it’s possible for the non-citizen to keep their Green Card, but it’s very, very difficult. Sometimes an angry U.S. citizen spouse calls us and says, “Hey, Jim can you help us or help me keep my spouse from getting that permanent Green Card.” We don’t get involved in that. We work too hard to get immigration benefits for people and we view it contrary to what we do here as helping U.S. citizens screw over their spouses and keep them from getting a Green Card.
Now there are certainly ways that a U.S. citizen can hurt the immigrant’s chances of keeping the Green Card and the primary way for that is to file for divorce. The fact of the matter is that if you’re divorced or going through a divorce and immigration finds out about it it’s pretty much going to be a [inaudible 00:02:55] letter to get that Green Card conditions removed and for the beneficiary, the immigrant, to be able to stay in the United States.
While we don’t get involved in that, that is one thing that we’ve had situations where the U.S. citizen has done that and the immigrant has come to us and asked us to try and help them to keep the Green Card. In those situations, there are steps that we can take if we can demonstrate that it was a valid marriage at the time of its inception, that the parties intended to live together as husband and wife and that things just didn’t work out.
Now if the U.S. Citizen tries to stop that the immigrant’s really going to have a hard time overcoming it. If the U.S. Citizen is willing to say, “Yeah, it was a legitimate marriage, but things just didn’t work out and no I don’t think the person should be deported,” if we work on the case properly and develop the facts we might be able to keep that person here [inaudible 00:03:51] off a permanent residence status, but it’s very, very difficult. It’s not something that’s easily done.
The long and the short of it is that conditional Green Card has to be renewed before the two years are up. You have to get those conditions removed and if the U.S. citizen spouse is not going to participate in that part of the process it’s going to be very difficult to get those conditions removed. At the same time if you’re the immigrant and they’re not helping you, it’s going to be really hard for you to stay in the United States. We don’t advise people to try and mess with other people’s immigration status. We think it’s a mean and dirty trick and we don’t help people that want to do that.
If you have questions about this, about your conditional Green Card or about getting the conditions removed or what has to happen, feel free to pick up the phone and give us a call, 314-961-8200 and we’ll try to get you all squared away. Thanks a lot. Don’t forget you can always email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks a lot.