What Happens if You Divorce Before Getting Your Green Card?

certificate of marriage

Marriage visas are one of the most commonly discussed routes to citizenship. In most cases the process is a fairly simple one. However, complications can sometimes arise. One common issue is a divorce that occurs before the green card process has been completed.

We’ll walk you through the basics of the marriage visa process in the following article, as well as what to do in the case of a divorce before permanent residence has been granted. And if you have any more questions, contact us. At Monument Immigration, we offer immigration law services related to all aspects of the immigration process, including marriage visas.

A New Life

Moving to the United States on a marriage visa is an exciting opportunity for thousands of people across the globe. The promise of permanent residence and work opportunities can bring a sense of security and makes the future seem bright.

The process begins by acquiring a K-1 visa, which allows you to move to the United States with the intention of marrying a United States citizen within 90 days- you can read more about eligibility requirements here. Once married, you can file for an Adjustment of Status and receive your Green Card.

Yet for some couples, the story is not so simple. A divorce that occurs before a green card application has been finalized can complicate the status of the non-resident, and even force them to leave the country.

What Happens in the Case of a Divorce Before an Adjustment of Status?

In the United States, a green card application is not accepted if it is likely that the applicant will not be able to support themselves. To get over this hurdle, the citizen spouse files an Affidavit of Support. This means that they are assuming financial responsibility for the green card applicant. In most applications, this is not an issue, and the U.S. citizen is more than willing to submit the affidavit to support their wife or husband.

However, in the case of a divorce, the spouse who is a U.S. citizen may be unwilling to sign an Affidavit of Support. This means they control whether or not the person they are about to be divorced from will be able to gain permanent residence in the United States.

A recent ruling, Matter of Sothon, holds that if the Affidavit of Support is withdrawn, the applicant cannot adjust their status and get a green card. This means that the law is now even more in favor of U.S. citizens, giving them control over the fate of their former partner.

What Else Can Be Done?

Unfortunately, current law doesn’t give immigrants much power in this scenario. However, there are some exceptions where the non-resident has legal recourse. In the event of physical or emotional abuse on the part of the U.S. citizen, the non-citizen may be able to file for a green card without an Affidavit of Support. This takes at least some of the power out of the hands of an abusive partner, and offers the possibility of still obtaining permanent residence.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney

These cases are time sensitive, so it’s important that you know all of your legal options right away. That’s why you should contact an experienced immigration attorney before you make any decisions. At Monument Immigration, we have years of experience working on immigration law and have top immigration lawyers. We can consult you on marriage visas, as well as other options. We’re happy to offer a free consultation to discuss all of your legal options. Give us a call today to see what we can do for you.