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Some immigrants obtain green cards by marrying a citizen of the United States. If that marriage ends, the divorce can have drastic consequences for the immigrant spouse.

Several factors may impact how marriage dissolution influences immigration status. If you are wondering how divorce can impact a green card in San Diego, contact an experienced attorney from Hacking Immigration Law, LLC. An attorney from our firm has the time, skills, and resources necessary to advise you of your legal rights and answer all of your questions.

Marriage and Conditional Permanent Residency

When a person obtains their green card because of marriage, that green card holder has conditional permanent residency. Conditional permanent residency status lasts for two years, at which point the immigrant may have the opportunity to petition for unconditional status.

Conditional permanent residency is effectively a period in which the government determines that the marriage is legitimate and not a way of obtaining an easier path to citizenship. Other than the conditional provision, this green card comes with all of the benefits and obligations of any other permanent residency status.

An immigrant who is divorcing while on a conditional permanent residency visa may risk their ability to remain in the country, and may result in deportation in some cases. Anyone who may be at risk of losing their green card following a divorce, should speak to an experienced attorney in San Diego.

Obtaining a Waiver for Conditional Permanent Residency

Near the end of the two years, immigrant spouses must file a joint petition to cease the conditional immigration status. If the spouse with citizenship refuses to file the joint petition because of an impending divorce, the immigrant can file the waiver to avoid this requirement to file jointly. Seeking a waiver may require the immigrant spouse to show their good faith in entering the marriage and that extenuating circumstances have kept them from filing jointly. Individuals with conditional permanent residency status may apply for a waiver if they are getting divorced from an abusive partner or would face extreme hardship if deported following the end of their marriage. Anyone seeking a waiver should speak to a lawyer to learn more about their options and rights for protecting their green card in the event of a divorce in San Diego.

Unconditional Permanent Residency Status and Divorce

If a person has unconditional permanent residency status, the divorce should not threaten their ability to maintain their green card. However, a divorce still may impact their attempt to become a citizen.

Before an immigrant can apply for citizenship, they must meet the residency requirement. While those who are not married to a US citizen typically must wait five years to apply for citizenship, those who are married only have to wait three years. As such, divorce can impact these different waiting periods.

For instance, if the couple stayed together for three years, the immigrant would no longer have to meet the five-year requirement. However, if a couple divorces before three years, then the wait time before they can apply for citizenship increases to five years. An attorney in San Diego could explain the implications of divorce on and on an unconditional permanent resident with a green card.

Annulment Based on Fraud

If a U.S. citizen believes that their spouse married them only to obtain a green card, they can seek an annulment of their marriage. When this happens, the immigrant may face severe consequences, including losing their permanent residency status.

It is important to note that falsely claiming that an immigrant committed marriage fraud can lead to criminal charges for the citizen. Any immigrant facing such allegations should defend themselves with the assistance of a local attorney.

Contact a San Diego Attorney to Learn More About How Divorce Could Impact a Marriage-Based Green Card

Receiving legal permanent residency status through marriage comes with many complex legal nuances. As such, dissolving this marriage could negatively impact your immigration status if you received your green card because of your spouse. Wondering how divorce can impact a green card in San Diego may only lead to stress and anxiety. Speaking to an attorney is the best way to obtain answers to all of your questions.

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