Divorce and Green Cards

Divorce is never easy. But if you’re a foreign national in the US, divorce can affect your US immigration status. Below, I will discuss whether or not a divorce could affect your permanent resident status. If you are in the US as the spouse of a visa holder, the divorce may render your status invalid as of the date of the divorce.

Can I renew my green card if I get divorced?

Most green card holders will find their divorce does not affect their immigration status. Once you are already a permanent resident with a ten-year green card, renewing your visa is typically not a problem. To renew your visa, you will file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. The form contains no questions related to your marital status. So, once you have your ten-year green card, a divorce should not affect your visa status. An important exception would be if the divorce triggers an investigation into fraud in your immigration status.

Will I lose my green card status if I get divorced?

When you obtain a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, USCIS typically issues a two-year conditional green card. The USCIS uses the additional two years to investigate and evaluate your marriage’s validity and ensure you entered the marriage in good faith. Before the two years are up, you and your spouse file a joint petition, Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, and evidence to prove your marriage is bona fide.

If your divorce happens while you still hold a conditional green card, USCIS will place extra scrutiny on your first green card. When you filed Form I-751 after your divorce, you should make sure to include dozens and dozens of pieces of evidence about the validity of your marriage. Evidence supporting the validity of your marriage may include:

  • Old lease agreement or mortgages in both spouses’ names;
  • Joint bank or financial accounts;
  • Evidence that one spouse made the other beneficiary of investment accounts or life insurance policies in the past;
  • Insurance statements for home, auto, or life insurance;
  • Credit card statements or utility bills with both spouses listed;
  • Wills, trusts, or powers of attorney listing both spouses.
  • Birth certificates of any children from the marriage;
  • Correspondence between the two of you before and after the marriage;
  • Photographs from your relationship, including those with family and friends;
  • Wedding-related expense receipts, invitations, guest books, and photos;
  • Letters of support from family and friends (signed with full contact information and a photo ID);
  • Statements from you and, if possible from your ex-spouse.

While the process of applying for a permanent green card after divorce can be trickier, it is still possible. Divorce should not mean the end of a green card if the marriage was bona fide in the first place.

If you are trying to navigate the green card process and contemplating divorce, you should discuss your situation with an experienced immigration attorney. I’ve helped hundreds of individuals and couples worldwide navigate the path to U.S. residency and citizenship. I’d love to help you too.