Divorce is a complicated process for anyone going through it. It is emotionally painful and often causes financial and other difficulties. In addition, if one of the parties to the divorce is an immigrant, they may face additional barriers in the divorce process because of their immigration case.
Can an immigrant divorce their U.S. citizen spouse and remain in the U.S.?
The answer to whether an immigrant can divorce their U.S. citizen spouse and remain in the U.S. legally depends on a series of factors, including the timing of the divorce and where the person is in the immigration process.
It is important to note that a foreigner who marries an American citizen is called a primary beneficiary in immigration cases because the U.S. citizen petitions for them directly based on marriage. In addition, immigration benefiaries are subject to conditions, even after they receive a green card.
Conditional permanent residency
Generally, conditional permanent residency is a temporary immigration status given to people who obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen. This condition is in place, in part, to ensure that foreigners who marry U.S. citizens do not do so for fraudulent reasons.
After a person’s green card is approved, the conditional permanent resident is typically subject to a two-year conditional period. They must remain married to their U.S. citizen spouse to keep their conditional permanent residency during that time.
What is a derivative beneficiary?
A derivative beneficiary is a person who does not qualify to apply for a green card independently but can apply through the primary beneficiary. This could be a child or parent of a foreigner married to a U.S. citizen.
Suppose you want to divorce your U.S. spouse before your green card interview or the conditional permanent residency period expires. In that case, you usually cannot continue the green card application process.
Divorce is a difficult time, and when combined with a pending immigration case, it can be much harder. For this reason, it is critical to understand the law and how both family and immigration law impact each other, so you can make the best decision for yourself.