Can I get the conditions on my green card removed even after divorce?
There’s been a lot of questioning lately from potential clients about the possibility of getting the conditions removed on a green card, a marriage-based green card, even if the couple is divorced.
Let me walk you through the scenario.
So generally, when a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident marries someone from overseas, they can sponsor them for a green card.
And one of the ways that USCIS cuts down on fraud is to determine whether or not the couple is still married two years after the marriage.
So what they do is they give you a two-year green card.
So let’s say that Boris marries Anna. Anna’s a US citizen.
Boris is a Russian citizen.
Boris applies for a green card based on that marriage.
Boris and Anna submit a bunch of good marital evidence, and Boris and Anna get their marriage-based I-130 and adjustment of status for Boris approved.
Boris is going to get a two-year green card.
In fact, at the interview, he’s probably going to sign a form that says, hey, Boris, at the end of two years, you’re going to have to submit a form called an I-751 petition to remove conditions on lawful permanent residence.
You’re going to have to submit some more evidence that demonstrates that the marriage is still ongoing.
And then we’ll go ahead and give you a 10-year green card. We will remove the conditions.
So that period after you get that initial green card, you’re called a conditional resident.
And what’s happening when you file an I-751 is you’re asking USCIS to look at the marriage one more time and to determine that the marriage is still ongoing and it’s valid and therefore we’re going to give you “unrestricted” lawful permanent residence.
Now, of course, you can always apply for citizenship at about the time you get that 10-year green card. That’s a topic for another video.
Because in this video, what we’re talking about is, well, what happens if Boris and Anna get divorced before the two years are up?
So this is a tricky situation.
Now, our office has handled, I think I was telling someone on a consult yesterday, I think about 13 or 14 of these solo cases.
That’s what we, in our office we call them I-751 solos as opposed to I-751 joints because most 751s are jointly filed, the US citizen signs it, the foreign national signs it, and they sort of file it together.
But we’ve been having a lot of consults lately where trouble is afoot. The couple’s not getting along.
Usually, these consults are with the foreign national. The foreign national, this would be Boris in this case, Boris is wondering, well, am I going to be able to stay in the United States?
You know, a lot of time they’ve been here for a while.
They’ve established roots in the United States.
They have a nice job.
And they’re concerned about their ability to stay in the United States. And we totally get that.
I mean, having that green card is a very valuable asset and people want to know what will happen if I get divorced.
Sometimes they come to see us, as this fellow yesterday that I was talking to, even before they talk to the divorce lawyer. And that’s probably a good idea because obviously the divorce lawyer’s not going to know about the immigration consequences of it and you’re going to want to think it all through.
So in those situations, when I meet with people, the number one question that I ask is, all right, let’s think of your spouse, the US citizen, Anna, in this situation, would we classify Anna as a red light, a yellow light, or a green light?
A red light means that Anna’s going to do everything she can to keep Boris from getting his 10-year green card.
A yellow light is Anna’s going to stay out of it. She’s going to remain neutral. She’s going to be Switzerland. She’s staying out of it. If Boris gets to stay, that’s great. If Boris has to go, that’s okay too.
A green light would be if Anna wants to help Boris stay in the United States.
So sometimes the marriage doesn’t work out, but the people are still friends.
In those situations, those are the best because then we have a real opportunity to help Boris stay because we can get a statement from Boris as to all the ways that the marriage were legitimate, or was legitimate, and then we go to Anna and have her work on a condensed version of that and just basically say, look USCIS, I loved Boris.
I got married for love. He married me for love. And just for whatever reason, it didn’t work out.
Now, you can’t just submit that by itself.
You’re also going to have to submit a lot of documentary evidence that the couple, that Boris and Anna had a real marriage.
You’re not going to resubmit all the stuff you submitted the first time because now the inquiry is, well, what happened after they got married?
So you’re going to want to show that they still lived together, that they still co-mingled their money.
All the usual stuff that you would show a valid marriage, you’re going to want to submit as much of that as possible.
So on these cases in particular, we really want a big old stack of documents.
The more, the better. Sometimes we’ll create evidence. And what I mean by that we’ll interview friends and family, have them sign affidavits as to the validity of the marriage.
And so it is definitely possible to get the conditions removed on your green card.
I would not suggest doing it by yourself. It’s pretty time-intensive. And it’s pretty fact-intensive.
You need some good lawyering skills to develop the factual basis to demonstrate that the marriage is legit, and then you’re going to want to get all the evidentiary support to buttress that argument.
So we’ve handled many of these and they’ve all worked out so far, knock on wood.
And we’re really happy when those cases go through because they’re tough cases.
Some of them we’ve gotten approved with interviews and some we’ve had approved even without an interview.
So if it was a legitimate marriage and it just didn’t work out, the law provides that it can be approved.
And that’s what we’ve been seeing more and more lately.