Can I keep my green card even if my US citizen spouse decides to divorce me? Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Attorney practicing law out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. When you marry a US citizen and you’ve been married less than 2 years, you’re only going to get what’s called a conditional green card. You’re given lawful permanent resident status, and even though it’s called permanent, it’s not entirely permanent because when you’re married for less than 2 years, the green card that you get is only good for 2 years from the date of issuance.
Typically, what happens in a regular green card case is the US citizen sponsors someone, and they get that green card. If after the 2 years, they’re still married, they submit another form called an I-751 and a bunch of additional evidence that shows that the couple is still married, but the question then arises what happens when the marriage has gone south and either the US citizen or the alien have decided to get divorced? What happens then? Can the person still get their green card? That is the question that we get from time to time here at the Hacking Immigration Law, and we’ve made this video to try to explain to you exactly what happens.
The first thing you should know is it is possible to maintain your lawful permanent resident status if you had a conditional green card even if you’ve gotten divorced, so it is possible. It’s not easy though, that’s the other thing. While it’s possible, it’s not easy, and the reason it’s not easy is because the number one factor into determining whether or not you can get that green card is whether or not your US citizen spouse is willing to help or tries to hurt your chances of staying in the United States. How does this work?
Everyone who gets a conditional green card has to file that I-751 at least within the last 90 days of the 2 years that they had their green card. Sometimes we’re contacted after a year of marriage. The couple has had their green card for about a year or a little bit longer, and the non-citizen has to get ready to file on their own. The US citizen is not going to participate in the process. They’re not going to help, and they’re no longer married. The law does allow for a divorced conditional permanent resident to get their green card, and like I said earlier, the one thing that’s most important is whether the US citizen is willing to help.
If they’re willing to sign an affidavit that says that the couple entered into the marriage in good faith, that it was a legitimate marriage, that everyone had the best of intentions and it just didn’t work out, that’s going to go a long way to getting the conditional green card lifted and to get permanent lawful resident status for 10 years and beyond. Conversely, if the US citizen wants to harm the non-citizen’s chances of getting that permanent green card, and they actively go to immigration and try to thwart that effort by making bad statements or saying that the person only married me for the green card, that’s really going to hurt and probably be fatal to the non-citizen’s chances of getting that permanent green card.
When you submit the I-751 on your own without a spouse, then you need to submit all the evidence that you can that the marriage was legitimate, whatever evidence you have that the couple comingled funds, traveled together, had debt together, credit cards together, lived together, all that evidence. The more of it you can submit, the better. In these situations, we want to go for both quantity and quality, so you want to have a lot of evidence, but you also want to have good competent evidence. You want to have testimony from people that knew the couple, you want to have evidence of all the financial stuff together for the couple, and you really want to make sure that you prove it up just like you would a regular marriage, only here it’s been divorced.
We can help you with this. It’s not easy. I would not try this without an attorney who knows what they’re doing. We’re handling 3 of these right now, and the more we do it, the better we get at it because the point is you really need to prove your case. You need an overwhelming evidence to show that the marriage was legitimate. If you have any questions, give us a call, 314-961-8200 or you can email us at Jim@HackingLawPractice.com