If you are staying in the United States on a visa granted on your spouse’s application, a divorce or separation process can indeed affect your lawful status. Since you are an immigrant, you are treated differently by the law from the beginning. In these circumstances, divorce can be a complicated matter. This could cost you a visa, but it doesn’t mean immediate deportation. All sorts of scenarios are probably going through your head now, but don’t let that scare you. We usually recommend consulting with an immigration attorney Chicago in any situation that can possibly affect your visa status so you can create a plan to secure your future in the United States.
What Effect Will Divorce or Separation Cause?
Well, the answer depends on your spouse’s status and how and when you received the immigration benefit. For example, if you got the conditional resident status through your marriage, you probably know that it’s limited to only two years. In order to become a permanent resident, it’s necessary to file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence) during the final 90 days before the green card expires. Typically, both spouses should file this form together, and they need to attach the documents that can prove they are still married. In some other cases, when the marriage is already ended under state law, you can file the form by yourself.
Have in mind that you also need to submit with:
● Your divorce decree
● Proof that you entered into the marriage in good faith. This practically means that you have to show evidence that you lived together as spouses when you were married and actually shared a normal married life. This rule refers to joint children, joint bank accounts, joint credit cards, health insurance policies, or any other proof that your marriage was legitimate.
● A statement on why you got divorced
Does Divorce Affect Your Permanent Residency Application?
You need to know that conditional residents must file some kind of a petition with USCIS(U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) before your second anniversary of admission to the U.S. to receive the full permanent resident status. But, if the marriage ends, the spouse loses an immigrant group and becomes deportable. That is not the end of the story because if you have been approved for permanent residence before your divorce, that situation can not affect your immigrant status, which is a good thing. The bad thing is that as a divorced immigrant, you’ll need to wait five years to apply for a green card.
When talking about financials, there is one more document we need to mention, and that is Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support. This refers to non-citizens and shows that they have financial support and are not likely to rely on the U.S. government for any financial assistance. Here comes the obligation for the sponsoring spouse to annually support the non-citizen at an amount that can be 125% or more of the U.S. Poverty Guideline levels. This obligation ends when a non-citizen becomes a U.S. citizen, dies, or permanently leaves the United States.
If you are a non-citizen and facing divorce, it’s the right time to consult with your lawyer, who can understand how family law affects immigration. Try to look for a lawyer who has experience with these situations and can make an excellent strategy for saving your immigrant status.