How Filing for Divorce Can Affect Your Green Card and What You Can Do to Protect It


Divorce is a difficult and emotional process that can have a significant impact on many aspects of a person's life, including their immigration status. For individuals who have obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, a divorce can have serious consequences. There are many people in this situation, especially in major metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles which is a melting pot of intercultural marriages.

When a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the marriage is less than two years old, the foreign national is granted a conditional green card. This conditional green card is valid for two years and must be converted to a permanent green card before it expires. To convert the conditional green card to a permanent green card, the couple must jointly file a petition to remove the conditions within the 90-day period before the expiration of the conditional green card. This requires the signature of both the US Citizen Spouse and the LPR spouse on the I-751 form.

If the couple is divorced before the two-year period is up, the foreign national may be at risk of losing their conditional green card. However, if the couple has already filed a joint petition to remove the conditions and the foreign national is divorced before the petition is approved, the foreign national may still be able to obtain permanent residency by converting the joint petition into a waiver. If the joint petition to remove the conditional lpr has not yet been filed, then the immigrant spouse may file for a waiver of the joint petition requirement.

To obtain a waiver, the foreign national must prove one of three things: that the marriage was entered into in good faith but ended in divorce or annulment, that the foreign national was subjected to domestic violence or extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or that the foreign national would suffer extreme hardship if they were forced to leave the United States.

The process of obtaining a waiver can be complex and requires a significant amount of documentation and evidence. It is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that all necessary documentation is submitted and that the waiver application is prepared properly.

In some cases, a divorce can also affect a foreign national's ability to obtain a green card in the first place. If a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse files for divorce before the foreign national's green card application is approved, the foreign national may be denied a green card. This is because the U.S. government may view the marriage as fraudulent if the couple divorces before the foreign national's green card application are approved.

If you are a foreign national who has obtained a green card through marriage and you are considering divorce, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney that practices in the area of family law and immigration to understand how the divorce may impact your immigration status. Contact Us, we can help you navigate the complex immigration laws and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the divorce process.


Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does create any attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.

Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes was President of the Philippine-American Bar Association. He is a member of both the Family Law section and Immigration Law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, APC is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 747, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail Visit us at

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