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Will divorce lead to removal for an immigrant spouse?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2023 | Immigration Process

There are multiple immigration programs available for the immediate family members of United States citizens. Both the spouses and the fiancés of citizens can potentially qualify for visas based on their relationships. These visas offer a fast track toward permanent residence and future citizenship.

Immigrant spouses or fiancés can secure permission to enter the country and then obtain a green card. Eventually, some immigrant spouses will choose to naturalize and become United States citizens.  Those who immigrate through a marital relationship have a good opportunity to remain in the United States indefinitely even if they don’t naturalize.

However, not every marriage succeeds. Infidelity, abuse or changes in personal values might lead to a divorce. A divorce could have implications for someone’s eligibility for a green card. Will the immigrant spouse who entered the country because of their relationship automatically be removed if they divorce the person who facilitated their entry into the United States?

Divorce does not automatically trigger removal

The duration of someone’s marriage and the length of their stay in the United States will influence whether or not the decision to divorce will have immediate immigration consequences. The closer it is to the date of someone’s entry into the country when they divorce, the greater the chances of them facing immigration challenges.

The first green card issued when a fiancé or spouse enters the United States is usually a conditional green card that is only good for two years instead of the standard 10 years for most green cards. After that initial two-year period, immigrant spouses may qualify for a standard green card and will be in a more secure position if they eventually find themselves facing divorce.

Those who travel to live with a spouse or get married to someone in the United States only to endure abuse or other criminal activity might potentially qualify for a special visa that allows them to stay in the country if they report the crime and assist the prosecution in building a case. Others may qualify for special immigration programs due to political issues in their country of origin.

Every immigrant weathers different circumstances, and there is rarely one answer that applies to every situation. Discussing one’s visa and marriage in depth with a legal professional could an immigrant evaluate whether divorcing now will affect their future.