Divorcing & Separating Immigrants

Divorcing & Separating Immigrants

Worried you will lose your conditional green card if you and your spouse divorce/separate?
Looking to buy time while you work things out with your spouse?
Left your spouse because of abuse but have no immigration status?


While we all hope that our marriage will work out, the reality is it may not. Divorce can impact a person’s ability to keep their green card (U.S. lawful permanent residency) or obtain a green card when a spouse you counted on backs out.

What Are My Options If I Divorce But Have A Conditional Green Card?

For you have received your conditional resident immigrant status (two year green card), you must usually file jointly with your spouse to keep your lawful permanent resident status and convert your card to a regular 10 year green card. There are a few options for keeping your green card after your relationship has ended or is coming to an end.

You may be eligible to file what’s called an “I-751 waiver” and remove the conditions on your green card without your spouse’s cooperation.

After a divorce or annulment occurs, you will likely have to submit the petition on your own, requesting that USCIS waive the joint filing requirement. The bottom line is that if your relationship is coming to an end, don’t rely on your spouse’s help. Take charge of your future now. For more information on I-751 Waivers click here.

What If I Don’t Have a Green Card but My Marriage is Ending?

Living with or leaving an abusive or uncooperative spouse can hinge on many reasons. Maybe you told yourself that you shouldn’t leave and you may feel confused about how to navigate through the many issues that come with separating. You may fear the cultural shame that may come with a divorce or separation, children may be involved or your spouse may promise you that s/he will change and make you feel guilty for considering leaving the relationship. You may feel like you are trapped and your immigration future is in your spouse’s hands. This is all a lot to weigh and we get that these are tough choices. But when it comes to your immigration case, you may have options.

Spouse Never Filed For You:

If your spouse never filed for your permanent resident status or you simply never received status and you are now facing divorce or have already divorced, you may be able to obtain your green card without their help. A divorced spouse who was subject to extreme cruelty from his or her legal permanent resident or U.S. citizen spouse may apply for an immigrant visa as an abused spouse (eventually leading to a green card) if the petition is filed within the two years following any final divorce decree. For more information on a potential self-petition under VAWA, click here.

Your U.S. Citizen Spouse Left You:

There is a fine line between an abusive relationship and a bad marriage and it’s hard to recognize the difference when you’re in the middle of it all. And we understand that it is even more difficult for a man who is trapped in such a relationship to come to terms with what is happening to them.

It can be difficult for a man to admit they are in an abusive relationship or he may not even realize they are in an abusive relationship. Some signs that you are in an abusive relationship include when your partner:

  • verbally abuses, belittles you, humiliates you, harasses you with accusations of being unfaithful;
  • tries to control where you go and who you see, manipulates you into doing things in order to control your immigration status, or controls how you spend money.

But gender and sexual orientation does not limit the ability for a potential self-petition under VAWA. For more information on VAWA options for men, click here.

SGG’s team of experienced family and removal attorneys work daily with immigrants who come to us who are struggling through a bad marriage, have already left their spouse, or are close to their green card interview and their spouse is threatening to not attend. It’s crucial to speak with us to know your options so you don’t feel dependent on your spouse following through on your case when your relationship is already on the rocks.  Whether it’s a waiver case, a VAWA case, or helping you save your Immigrant Visa case based on a marriage that’s not yet ended, we can strategize with you on ways to save your immigration status and the pros and cons of different avenues, processing times, and how much your spouse could or would not be involved.

For more information about for divorcing or separating immigrants, call us at 213.627.8997 today to book a detailed Case Evaluation appointment with an experienced family and removal immigration attorney.

It’s time to get started. Call us: (213) 627-8997