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What happens to my conditional status after a divorce?

The process to obtain your conditional status was long and arduous, and it may have interfered with your wedding plans on more than one occasion. However, once achieved, you and your new spouse began your new life in the United States. That may have included finding a job and perhaps having a child.

When you married a U.S. citizen and obtained your conditional residency status, you expected to live in Kentucky with your spouse for many happy years. However, things may not have worked out as you planned, and now your status is in question. As you approach the two-year anniversary of your marriage, you know that your conditional status is due to expire. However, can you remove the conditions on your status even if you are no longer married to your spouse?

Applying for a waiver

The U.S. government places a two-year hold on your permanent residency status when you immigrate to this country for the purpose of marrying a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may have hoped to obtain the full rights of permanent residency right away, but you may also understand the reason for your conditional status. Waiting two years before granting you a change of status allows the government to confirm that you married in good faith and not simply to obtain a green card.

When your conditional status is due to expire, immigration authorities require you and your spouse to apply together to have those conditions removed. However, this may not be possible if you have experienced difficulty in your marriage. In such cases, you may ask for a waiver of the requirement to file jointly if you meet the following conditions:

  • You married in good faith and not intending to obtain residency by fraud.
  • You and your spouse are now divorced or had your marriage annulled, or your spouse abused you or your children.
  • Deportation from the U.S. will create a hardship.
  • Your inability to file your petition on time was not your fault.

Immigration officials will ask you to present a copy of your divorce or annulment decree to establish eligibility for a waiver of the requirement to file jointly for the removal of your conditional status. Meanwhile, your work permit deadline will be extended until immigration authorities make a decision about your status. They may also summon you to an interview to discuss your situation and to verify that you came to the country in good faith.

You may have expected to have the moral support of your spouse through this challenging process. However, you can still rely on the compassionate assistance of a legal professional with experience in immigration law.

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