Getting The Results You Should Expect When Hiring An Immigration Attorney

Will an upcoming divorce mean you get deported? 

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2023 | Immigration Law

There are many ways in which family immigration options can be used to keep people together in their new country. Sometimes, one person will move to the United States and then petition to bring a spouse or another family member to live with them. In other cases, an immigrant will get married and then be given a green card to continue living with their spouse in the US indefinitely.

One thing that people sometimes worry about is getting divorced. If their marriage ends and the relationship falls apart, are the stakes higher for them? Could they actually be deported just because their spouse asked for a divorce?

Legitimate marriages still provide green cards

The question to ask here isn’t whether or not the person got divorced, but whether or not the marriage was initially legitimate. If the couple really did fall in love, get married, find a reason to split up, and then get divorced, it shouldn’t be a problem. Divorce happens to citizens and immigrants alike, and the government understands that. But, the marriage must have been intended to be permanent at the time it was formed.

What to be wary of is if getting divorced makes it appear that you were never authentically married. For instance, maybe the divorce happens almost immediately after getting the green card. If the government believes your marriage was fraudulent, that could lead to an investigation with deportation or other potential consequences. This doesn’t happen with every divorce. But if it looks like the marriage was fraudulent, you could be asked to prove your relationship in front of a judge or be prevented from ever filing for any immigration benefits in the future.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can review your marriage at many different stages. Although rare, USCIS can even reopen files. Normally they will review a marriage when you apply for a new benefit. For example, if you must file to Remove Conditions on your two-year green card (because you were married less than two years when you got your green card approved), they will closely review the marriage. They can also review your prior applications and marriages when you apply for Naturalization. A marriage can also be reviewed if you didn’t finish your case with a prior spouse and are applying again through a new spouse. There is also a rule preventing divorced Legal Permanent Residents who got their green card through marriage from petitioning for a new spouse within five years of their divorce – sometimes referred to as the “Five Year Rule.” If you do, your last marriage will be very closely reviewed again.

If you received your green card through your spouse’s work or humanitarian process, so long as you had completed the process before your divorce was finalized, the divorce wouldn’t cause you to lose your green card. But, if your immigration process hasn’t been completed before you are divorced, you won’t get a green card. However, USCIS can still review these marriages to confirm they are “bona fide” or valid from their inception.

These rules are complicated. It is critical that you talk to an experienced immigration attorney before you file your first paperwork to avoid making mistakes that make things more difficult. Regardless of your situation, this can be a complicated time. You need to know about all of your legal options.