An annulment or divorce can affect your immigration status and hamper your plans of eventually applying for US citizenship. If you want to increase your chances of becoming a lawful permanent resident, consult with an experienced immigration lawyer early on. Get someone who will take time to look into your green card application and immigration case.
Any immigrant who obtained permanent residency through marriage (to either a US citizen or permanent resident) could face the cancellation of his or her permanent residency card for various reasons. Some cases can even lead to removal proceedings, and good immigration lawyers are necessary to avoid being deported to one’s home country.
A foreigner who went through an annulment or divorce, however, may still have a chance of obtaining a green card (or keeping one). While some foreign nationals could indeed get married just to get a green card, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) acknowledge the fact that relationships may sometimes not work out as intended. As such, immigration authorities would investigate whether the marriage was real or not.
How can an annulment or divorce affect my card application and chances of actually getting a green card and permanent residence?
A dissolution of marriage can affect an alien applying for a green card (or whose permanent residency is at risk) in different ways. The green card process can be long and complicated. Given differences in court processing times, an annulment or divorce would possibly coincide with various phases of your residence card application:
If your I-30 visa petition has already been applied
While your I-30 visa petition kickstarts the immigration process, it does not involve stay rights or rights for admittance. The same is true for new immigrants who have submitted an application for a green card but have not proceeded with an immigration interview. Getting an annulment or divorce at this point may cancel the entire green card through marriage application.
If your conditional residency has already been approved
If you have been issued a conditional green card, in two years, you are to process the removal of the conditional status (and get an actual permanent resident card) through Form I-751. Such immigration paperwork involves a joint petition form signed by both spouses.
After an annulment or divorce, the foreign national spouse may be asked to submit a waiver and proof that the marriage, although eventually dissolved, was not fraudulent. Such could include birth certificates of children, bank account statements, or other documents accepted under immigration laws. Otherwise, you might not anymore be able to apply for a green card or continue with the process.
If your permanent residency has already been approved
If your application for becoming a permanent resident is approved before getting annulled or divorced, your permanent resident card is generally not at stake. However, when you later apply for US citizenship, the USCIS may investigate further into your previous marriage. Here, immigration attorneys can help you prepare for your eventual interview.
If your US citizenship has already been applied
With an annulment or divorce at this point, the USCIS office may reexamine your immigration file and look for signs that a fraudulent marriage took place. You may be required to submit supporting documents to immigration authorities. A reliable immigration attorney will help you prove that the marriage was bonafide. Otherwise, your application for US citizenship would be denied and, if found guilty of marriage fraud, you might face deportation.
Immigrating to the US and obtaining lawful permanent residency can be a long and complicated legal process. If you currently reside in (or have already become a permanent resident of) the US because of a marriage, an annulment, or divorce can affect your application to be (or status as) a green cardholder. As such, get an experienced attorney from a trusted immigration law firm.
If you are submitting immigration forms and paperwork for your US green card or are processing your green card renewal, contact us at Diener Law for assistance.