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Can Conditional Permanent Residents Keep their Green Cards If There is a Divorce?

1122707_divorce.jpgAs an Austin Immigration Attorney, I help many couples through the adjustment of status process. Most of my clients have been married less than two years when they come to see me and since adjustment of status typically happens before the two year wedding anniversary, most foreign spouses get conditional residency status. What that means is that essentially, the couple is on a two year probation period. The couple has the burden of removing the “condition” on the foreign spouse’s green card by the end of the two year period. The earliest you can apply to remove the condition is 90 days before the expiration of the two year period.

As we all know, life is never simple. A lot can happen in two years. So what happens if within those two “conditional” years, the couple gets divorced? What happens to the foreign spouse and what are his or her options?

For most couples, before the conditional period ends, they file a joint petition to remove conditional residency. If you are a conditional permanent resident and you get divorced before you are able to apply to remove the conditions, you have options. You can file for a waiver of the joint petition requirement.

There are four general grounds that allow you to file for a waiver of joint petition:
Death of your spouse
Extreme hardship
Three of the above-mentioned waiver grounds include the requirement that the applicant prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith.

Divorce is difficult and causes a huge amount of stress for most people. For foreign spouses, it is even more challenging — they have to deal with the stress of divorce and also the immigration consequences of the divorce. Spouses have to make the difficult decision of where to live and think about the possibility of returning to their home country. As an immigration attorney, I tell my clients that divorce is no reason to give up on your right to remain here in the United States. Most people work hard and spend a lot of their time and resources to become “green card holders” — why should you give that up?

If you or someone you know is a conditional resident, an Austin immigration attorney can help. The Lyttle Law Firm has experience working on both, joint petitions to remove conditional residency and waiver of joint petitions to remove conditions. Call us at (512) 329-2770. We can give you the information you need to make the best decision for your situation.

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