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Does divorce threaten my permanent resident status?

For many years, one of the most direct paths to obtaining permanent resident status in the United States has been through marrying someone who is already a citizen. While the process is far more complicated than many television shows and movies portray, this has long been a well-known method for gaining resident status or citizenship.

However, marriages that include immigrants are just as susceptible to relationship difficulties as any other marriage, and many of them end in divorce. Divorce is complicated enough on its own, but some immigrants fear that divorcing their citizen spouse may negatively impact their ability to work toward citizenship or stay in the country at all.

The effect of a divorce depends largely on whether or not the immigrant's conditional resident status has already lifted, or if their status is still conditional. If it is conditional, then the divorce may make it much more difficult to lift that status. However, if the immigrant has already passed this milestone, there are ways to move forward even after divorce. If the immigrant still needs to lift the conditional status, they must file a joint petition with the citizen spouse to lift it, using the proper forms. If the citizen spouse will not cooperate, the immigrant spouse may seek a waiver and file singly.

If you have concerns about how divorce may affect your immigration status, you need to make sure you have a strong legal strategy. A strong strategy can help you navigate your divorce carefully while protecting your rights and priorities as you work towards permanent resident status or citizenship and building the life you want in America.

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