Removing the conditions of your green card after divorce
When someone receives a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, it is called “conditional residency” for the first two years. In order to remove the “conditional” title, thereby making it “permanent,” both spouses must jointly petition to remove the condition three months before the second year anniversary of when the green card was issued. Stated differently, the petition must be filed no earlier than 21 months (but no later than 24 months) after the green card was approved. Once the petition is approved, the condition is dropped and applicant becomes a permanent resident.
But what happens if the couple divorces before the condition is removed? Can the green card holder still become a permanent resident? The answer is yes. If a couple divorces before the conditional residency is removed, the green card holder can apply for a waiver of the requirement to file jointly. You will need to show that the you entered into the marriage in good faith and not to defraud the government. If you are separated but the divorce is not finalized,, you can file the waiver request and the USCIS will issue a request for evidence of the divorce decree once the dissolution proceedings are finalized. You will continue to be allowed to work under your green card until a decision has been made with respect to the waiver.
Cedric M. Shen is a U.S. immigration attorney and Canadian immigration consultant. He is the founding attorney at Maximilian Law Inc., a U.S. & Canadian immigration law firm with offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver.