The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is often suspicious of immigrant marriages. If USCIS suspects that a marriage is fraudulent and one or both spouses have married solely for the purpose of obtaining permanent residency in the U.S., the USCIS could deny or revoke a visa or green card. A divorce during any stage of immigration is likely to increase USCIS suspicion and complicate the immigration process. Immigrants contemplating divorce must consider the possibility that they may also be denied citizenship unless they can prove that a marriage was initially genuine. How a divorce may affect your immigration status depends on what stage of the immigration process you are in when you get divorced.
If your spouse is a U.S citizen or permanent resident, he or she will file a visa petition for you. This is the first step of the immigration process; however, approval of a visa petition does not grant you any immigration rights. Therefore, if a divorce takes place at this stage, you will be denied a visa or green card.
If your marriage is less than two years old, and you have attended your green card interview, you may be approved for conditional residence and issued a two-year green card. If you decide to divorce after having been approved for conditional residence, but you still wish to pursue permanent residency in the U.S., you will have to provide sufficient evidence to prove that your marriage was not fraudulent and petition the USCIS individually for permanent residency. A divorce at this stage could greatly compromise your immigration; however, an experienced immigration lawyer can help. If you entered into a marriage in good faith and the marriage ended in divorce or annulment, you can apply to have the conditions on your resident status removed.
Once you have been approved for permanent residence in the U.S. by the USCIS, a divorce will not affect your immigration status, unless you wish to naturalize or become a citizen of the United States.
When an immigrant applies for citizenship, the USCIS will review the applicant’s entire immigration history during the application process and an applicant must be prepared to demonstrate that his or her marriage, although over, was genuine. Any indication, such as divorce, that the marriage which initiated the immigration process was fraudulent, could prevent an immigrant from obtaining citizenship. If it is determined that a green card was initially obtained by fraudulent means, it could also result in deportation.
The most vulnerable immigrants are those who are married, but do not yet have a visa. Until a person seeking immigration is issued a visa, he or she does not have immigration rights and is also barred from any further pursuit of U.S. citizenship. Immigrants who have received approval for permanent residence are relatively free to divorce but their status as divorcees may cause issues in any subsequent application for U.S. citizenship.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, PC Assist Immigrants whose Visas may be Affected by Divorce
If your transnational marriage has become unsustainable and divorce appears imminent, Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, PC can help. Our experienced team will guide you through the steps that need to be taken in order for you to remain within the United States after divorce. Call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation.