Divorce and Immigration

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Divorce and Immigration in Chicago

Divorce on its own is already complicated. But a divorce can be more complicated when one spouse’s immigration status is dependent on the other spouse. But divorce doesn’t necessarily equate to automatic deportation. It does, however, mean that you must explore your options. Consult an Illinois immigration attorney to create a plan for securing your status. This is especially crucial if children are involved. 

How Divorce Can Affect Your Current Immigration Status

While divorce cannot alter or revoke permanent residency status, it will impact non-resident immigration statuses, including: 

  • Dependent Visa – This visa is granted to a spouse that came into the U.S. as part of his or her spouse’s visa. For instance, you were given an H-4 visa, which is dependent on your spouse’s H-1B visa status
  • Conditional Residency – This is given to immigrant spouses that have been married to a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen for a minimum of two years. 

Conditional residents are given three years to earn their U.S. citizenship instead of the standard five years. To obtain this shorter residency requirement, conditional residents should prove that they were married in good faith to a permanent resident or U.S. citizen for a minimum of three years. But if they get divorced before the three-year requirement, they’ll need to wait five years to re-apply for citizenship. 

If you want to gain permanent residency status and your divorce was finalized when you were still a conditional resident, you’ll have to submit Form I-751, a Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, and a request for waiving the standard requirement for filing Form I-751 with your spouse. 

But if you have a dependent visa, the USCIS will automatically revoke your immigration status once your divorce has been finalized. On the other hand, in situations where abuse is involved, you can explore your options with an experienced Illinois immigration lawyer, such as obtaining a working permit, so you can stay in the U.S.

How Divorce Can Impact an Application for Permanent Residency

If you’re a conditional resident, you should file a petition prior to your admission into the country’s second anniversary to obtain permanent resident status. Otherwise, when you get divorced, you will automatically lose your immigrant status and may be deported. On the other hand, if you were given a permanent resident status before your divorce, the divorce won’t have any effect on your immigration status. 

But, non-citizens who get divorced will need to wait for five years to apply for a green card as opposed to the three-year requirement if they were married and are classified as conditional residents. Once non-citizens qualify for green card application, the USCIS will investigate their immigration history, and they will need to prove that their marriages weren’t fraudulent. Otherwise, the USCIS could deny your citizenship and/or start removal proceedings. 

Consult Our Illinois Immigration Attorneys Today

Getting in touch with an experienced Illinois immigration attorney can help you navigate your divorce and its potential impact on your immigration status. Our  Illinois immigration lawyers here at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC, can help in planning the best possible steps you and your family can take, taking into account your immigration status. Call us or schedule your consultation online today. 

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