The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sees a lot of fraudulent marriage cases every year. In an attempt to combat fraudulent marriages, immigration issues conditional green cards.

What does that mean?

If you have been married for less than 2 years when you obtain your green card, immigration will issue you a 2-year conditional green card rather than a 10-year permanent green card.

When it comes to your 2-year mark to obtain your 10-year permanent green card, immigration will ask you to prove that your marriage is or was a ‘real, good-faith marriage’. Immigration authorities will examine the application closely to determine whether or not your marriage is the real thing and whether you didn’t get married for the sole purpose of evading immigration laws to obtain residency and a green card.

What rights do I have on a conditional green card?

Conditional residents get the same rights as permanent ones, like the ability to enter and exit the U.S., accept employment offers, and work toward citizenship. The key difference between conditional and permanent residency is that conditional green cards expire after two years.

After this time, the immigrant must prove that the marriage is ongoing and legitimate or if divorced, they must prove that the marriage was in good faith and either ask for a waiver based on divorce or abuse.

No matter what your immigration status is, you have the right to fair treatment, and an immigration attorney can make sure that you get it. Reach out to the team at JLB Law Group to help you with the legal process!

What Happens if I Get a Divorce Before the End of my Two-Year Conditional Period?

While a divorce is difficult for any couple, it can become even more problematic for those in the middle of their immigration process. When you have a marriage green card and apply for U.S. citizenship, the government looks closely at your immigration file for information regarding your marriage. If you go through a divorce or annulment during this process, it may trigger a complete re-examination of your case to determine if the marriage was legitimate to begin with or not.

Since your immigration is based on the marriage to a U.S. citizen, one of the conditions you have to be able to prove is that you have entered the marriage in good faith, that it is not fraudulent, and has not been arranged to get a green card. You have to prove this in order to get your initial two-year green card, but you’ll have to prove it all over again to apply for your 10-year green card.

Should your divorce be finalized while you are still a conditional green card holder, it may be more challenging to prove to immigration that your marriage was legitimate from the start, as it ended so soon. However, you can still get your 10-year green card if you can prove your marriage was real despite divorcing.

  • You may file an I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on your permanent residence status without your spouse at any time after you are granted conditional status if:

  • You or your parent entered into the marriage in good faith, but your spouse or stepparent subsequently died.

  • You or your parent entered into a marriage in good faith, but the marriage ended through divorce or annulment.

  • You entered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your spouse.

  • Your parent entered into the marriage in good faith, but you were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by either your parent or your parent’s spouse; or

  • Termination of your status and removal from the United States would result in extreme hardship.

You’ll want to consult with an attorney well-versed in both immigration and divorce law to ensure that your divorce paperwork will not cause problems for you with immigration afterward. Be sure to seek the counsel of an immigration lawyer right away!