If you obtained your U.S. green card (Legal Permanent Resident Status) or some type of immigration status while married to a United States citizen, you may wonder: What would happen if I get a divorce prior to becoming the beneficiary of a lawful status?
Marriage Scam a Concern
As is with every case each divorce is different. If you got divorced because you were suffering emotional or physical abuse while in the marriage then you might have a chance at proving to the immigration officers that you deserve another opportunity to stay in the U.S. However, if you intentionally marry an American citizen simply to evade the U.S. immigration laws then you should be concerned. This is known as a marriage sham. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services maintains that a major number of foreigners commit marriage shams in which immigrants purposefully marry a U.S. citizen simply to obtain legal immigration status.
There are many stipulations and conditions by which foreigners must abide by and only if their marriage is sincere they are eligible and able to receive U.S. immigration benefits. Evidently for those immigrants who through fraudulent marriages attempt to obtain their legal permanent status are not able to keep their marriage relationship real for long enough during the immigration process and wind up with marital problems which result in divorce.
Even couples in genuine marriages have problems and get divorced, yet USCIS is able to recognize this fact. A divorce may be disastrous while an immigration process is pending but it may not be as devastating. Each divorce case entangled in an immigration situation will be handled accordingly by the USCIS immigration officer handling the case, however you must do your best in convincing USCIS that your marriage was real and that you deserve a chance at living in the U.S.
A Few Steps in The Immigration Procedure
Consider these steps and how they can impact your rights as an individual:
- Receiving an Approval Notice for an I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative does not secure you a U.S. green card. An approval notice for an I-130 petition does not guarantee any immigration rights or benefits. If a legal permanent resident or U.S. citizen files a lawful permanent visa petition on your behalf and several months into your marriage you start having marital problems and you divorce, further steps within the process cannot be taken.
- A divorce can complicate your life when it is time to adjust status. For example: A conditional resident card only allows you to live in the U.S. for two years. Before the two years is up you must file your I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. A divorce will delay and complicate the immigration process because you will need to submit petition individually, along with surmounting supporting evidence to prove that your previous marriage was indeed real and then you must request a waiver of the joint filing requirement. These complexities will leave you discombobulated. Your only solution then is to hire an immigration attorney to advise you at this phase of the procedure and to help you fight your legal battle.
- After Approval for a Legal Permanent Resident Status do your research before applying for U.S. citizenship. Upon receiving approval for legal permanent residency, do your homework before attempting on applying for U.S. naturalization certificate.
- Applying for U.S. Citizenship also known as Naturalization. When the time comes for you to apply for naturalization or U.S. citizenship, USCIS will again review your immigration history. If there are any signs that you married an American citizen simply to obtain legal immigration status, you may have committed fraud. Depending on your supporting documents a divorce may or may not be in your favor; your marriage will be examined carefully. USCIS will require documents to corroborate that marriage was bona fide. If the immigrant is not able to provide documentation to support his/her claims USCIS will immediately deny U.S. citizenship and have the applicant be put on removal proceedings to be forcibly removed from the United States of America.
Seek Legal Advice
If you or your U.S. citizen spouse currently have a pending immigration case with USCIS and are going through a divorce, call an immigration attorney to assist you. An immigration lawyer can help you analyze your situation and look for possible options on how to move forward with your case.
Contact The Gambacorta Law office today at 847-786-2599 for a consultation at any of our office locations in Illinois, Arizona, Hawaii and Texas.