“How long after green card can I divorce,” is a phrase that is frequently searched for by foreign nationals who find themselves in troubled marriages. While you may have gotten married for love and intended to establish a life with your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse (LPR), things do not always go as planned.
The short answer to the question: “how long after green card can I divorce” is: there is no set time to get a divorce, after being issued a green card! Although there are no time limits on when a green card holder can get a divorce, if you file for a divorce shortly after getting your green card, the government may view your marriage with suspicion and allege that you entered into a fraudulent marriage. Entering into a sham marriage, just for immigration purposes, violates U.S. immigration laws. The government is cracking down on these types of marriages and will place foreign national spouses, who violate this principle, into deportation/removal proceedings.
If, however, your marriage is genuine and it is headed for a dissolution, you may be wondering what will happen to your immigration status if the marriage ends. As long as you entered into a real marriage and have solid documentation to prove it, you should not worry about getting a divorce.
2-Year Conditional Permanent Residents
If you were granted 2-year conditional permanent residence, you are required to file an I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions or Residence, beginning 90 days before the expiration of the 2-year green card. If your U.S. citizen or LPR spouse refuses to sign the petition, you may apply for a waiver of the joint filing requirement. If you have already obtained a divorce, you do not need to follow the 90-day rule. You may file the I-751 petition as soon as your divorce has been finalized. You should check the divorce waiver box on form I-751 and submit a copy or your divorce decree along with the application and supporting evidence of a bona fide marriage.
If divorce proceedings are pending, then submit a copy of the divorce petition with your I-751 immigration application and also check the box that you are applying for a divorce waiver. Once the divorce has been finalized, mail a copy of your divorce decree to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, where your application is pending.
In most cases, applicants who request a divorce waiver are interviewed by an immigration officer to verify whether their marriage was real. It is strongly advised that you hire an experienced immigration attorney to assist you in this process.
10-Year Green Card Holders
If you obtained a 10-year green card, there are no additional immigration applications to file. You may continue to renew your green card or apply for U.S. citizenship. If you are renewing your green card, information about your divorce is not required, unless you legally changed your name during the divorce process. If you are applying for U.S. citizenship, you must include a copy of your divorce decree with your application.
U.S. immigration law anticipates that marriages will break down. You will not be penalized if your marriage falls apart. You are not required to stay in an abusive or otherwise failing relationship because you obtained your green card through your spouse. Sometimes a divorce is the best decision to move forward with your life.