Divorce or separation is disturbing enough as it is; you ended a marriage you thought would last forever. Despite the marriage counseling where you bore your hearts out to the marriage counselor, the marriage ended still.
However, just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, you realize you got divorced before your interview. Either you didn’t know the divorce would affect your immigration case or you just couldn’t take it anymore and didn’t care.
Either way, since the deed is done already, what’s next is figuring out how to not get affected by the consequences. If you divorce before your interview, you’re in a pretty complicated situation.
The question is: will you be deported back to your home country or can you remain in the U.S.? This article will provide the next steps you can take if you’re facing complications due to divorce before the interview and also stress the need for an experienced immigration attorney.
What Happens If I Get a Separation Before a Green Card Interview With the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services?
If you get divorced prior to your green card application interview, the result of the immigration case will be based on your entry status. That is, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service will decide based on whether you’re a primary beneficiary or derivative beneficiary.
If you’re a primary beneficiary, you can continue the application; if it’s derivative, you cannot continue. Meanwhile, if your marriage lasted two years at least, you can request a waiver (Form I-751) and try getting adjustment of status.
What Impact Does a Divorce or Separation Have On Your Immigration Status?
How divorce or separation affects your status depends on whether you’re in the U.S. on a conditional resident status visa. That is if you got your visa based on your spouse’s application or they had to provide consent, divorce or separation may affect your lawful status.
It will also affect your ability to stay in the United States and chances of being put in deportation proceedings. It also depends on whether your former spouse is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, the immigration benefits you got, and how you got them.
To ensure the separation only affects your status positively, it is best you hire an immigration attorney from a reputable law firm who understands your case. Such a person can work with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to come up with the best possible solution for you.
Does Legal Separation Affect Green Cards?
Since legal separation isn’t an outright divorce or annulment, the couple is deemed to remain legally married for immigration services or marketing purposes and can still retain their permanent resident status. Thus, a non-U.S. citizen may still get a green card even if they are no longer living together with their spouse.
However, formal separation can hinder your petition to get a green card if it is brought to a jurisdiction where the couple is considered divorced. The USCIS doesn’t judge the viability of marriage; only its validity – if you didn’t commit marriage fraud, you’ll be okay.
Do They Separate You in the Green Card Interview?
Oftentimes, the same USCIS officer interviews couples in the United States, and together, but sometimes, it is done separately. It is not common to find couples arriving and expecting to be interviewed together but getting interviewed separately.
An interview where couples are interviewed separately is called “stokes interview;” the answers of spouses are then compared for inconsistencies. USCIS officers from FDNS (Fraud Detection and National Security) are responsible for conducting Stokes interviews.
Can You Still Adjust Status If You Divorce Before Your Second Marriage Interview?
If you divorce before the second marriage interview, which takes place at the end of the statutory two-year rule on conditional green cards. You can still proceed to adjust your status to unconditional resident status because the requirements are based on the marriage’s genuineness.
After all, that you’re legally separated or divorced doesn’t necessarily mean you had a sham marriage in the first place. Nevertheless, immigration authorities consider divorce a red flag, so, naturally, your petition to remove conditions will attract closer examination.
How Can Separation Impact Your Green Card Process?
While immigration laws still regard separated couples as legally married, the green card process based on the marriage is no longer straightforward. First off, if you’re in a jurisdiction where legal separation is considered part of a divorce process, you may be denied the green card and may be asked to leave after the expiration date of your conditional status.
If the state law doesn’t, the immigration official may grant you the green card. Another challenge you may face is your ex-spouse refusing to cooperate and fulfill joint filing requirements for the Form I-751.
Will You Lose Your Permanent Residence Case If You Separate Before a Green Card Interview?
Separation before the green card interview doesn’t automatically translate to you losing your permanent residence card case. You can still win the case through your marriage green card, depending on your relationship with your spouse.
Your ability to win the case also depends on whether or not your husband goes with you to explain the marital situation. If you do choose to go to the USCIS interview alone, you may want to let an experienced immigration lawyer talk you through what to do.
What Happens If You Divorce Before Marriage-Based Green Card Is Approved?
Before you get a marriage-based green card approval, you will have a priority date set for your interview. Both you and your spouse are expected to attend the interview to establish a real marriage and refute immigration fraud.
If you divorce before this interview, you can no longer seek a green card visa on the basis of marriage. Thus, unless there’s another reason you’re processing the green card visa (like employment-based visa), the immigration officer will deny the green card application.
How Do You Prepare for Your Green Card Interview after Divorce?
First, ensure you have all the supporting documents to prove a good faith marriage; you can request a postponement if you need more time. Additionally, be transparent and honest with your answers; avoid trying to play smart with USCIS officials. Furthermore, present evidence that you had a normal relationship with your spouse before the divorce.
These documents for evidence may include your marriage certificate, pre-recorded messages, joint bank account, mortgage payment with both your details and other related documents. All of these do not help you necessarily secure the application, but they help to prove good faith marriage. Finally, ensure you file the application before your current visa status expires.
If you will have to take a virtual interview, then you must understand any other automated technology to be used and ensure every joint filing requirement has been complied with. If possible, you can review the supplemental terms again before the interview date and have your attorney review every lawyer issue that must be addressed.
Let Herman Legal Group Handle Your Divorce Prior to Green Card Application Process
Have you tried all there is to handle separation prior to green card but don’t seem to be making any headway? Then, hiring an experienced attorney advertising may be the best way to go, and worthy of mention is that you don’t just need one of the many options out there, you need the best.
At Herman Legal Group, we offer the best immigration attorneys who can handle issues bordering on conditional residence status, conditional green card, update on green card status, and ensure you have everything that constitutes acceptance for your interview. All you have to do is schedule a virtual or in-person interview with us by calling +1-800-808-4013 or +1-216-696-6170 or booking online. Remember that message and data rates apply for these available services.
A green card interview is a time when immigration officers conduct a free evaluation of your marriage, requesting sensitive or confidential information. To get to this point, you have to pay legal fees and file the necessary forms for conditional resident status applications.
This process is often emotionally and physically draining, which is why we recommend having a good attorney-client relationship with a standard layer. You will have a confidential relationship with your lawyer, which will help with your permanent residency case.