Mar 1, 2020

How Can Divorce Affect Your Immigration Status

How Can Divorce Affect Your Immigration Status

As part of the challenging immigration process, there are several complex questions which help determine your eligibility and the value your presence would add to the country. However, being married to a current citizen can significantly help you gain citizenship. That said, we understand you’re going through a divorce. So, how can divorce affect your immigration status? Continue reading to find out.


Navigating the immigration process is stressful because you might be relatively unfamiliar with the country and might speak English as a second language. To make the process easier, you may have done what many immigrants do, namely finding sponsorship through your spouse who is a U.S. citizen. That said, if your marriage has lasted less than two years, you’re likely considered a conditional resident. A conditional resident status deems you a temporary resident until further action is taken, such as filing the I-751 petition for permanent residence.

We recognize that some divorces occur due to unhealthy living situations and other tense realities. If being at home made you feel unsafe during your marriage, you must prioritize your health and safety and find a way out. If your marriage has lasted at least two years, you’re exempt from needing your spouse for sponsorship. On the other hand, if the marriage has lasted less than two years, you’ll need to submit a waiver claiming an undue hardship. Each applicant’s waiver will have different details, so it's best to consult with an attorney to ensure your waiver tips the scales in your favor.

Obtaining citizenship

The overwhelming question here is how this divorce is going to affect your chances of becoming a U.S. citizen. Assuming you’ve gone through––or are currently going through the immigration process––you’ve likely followed the appropriate steps thus far. However, the good news is that a divorce will not stop you from becoming a U.S. citizen, but it may delay obtaining citizenship. For instance, if you already hold a green card and a permanent resident status, applying for naturalization may be delayed.

All factors considered, divorce happens, even if you’re working towards citizenship. Fortunately, getting divorced doesn’t revoke your chances of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, although a divorce may extend the process and require further documents. In most cases, applying for naturalization is permitted after three years, but a divorce can extend that time frame up to five years. Additionally, you must show that you got married to your spouse in “good faith.” In other words, you need to prove that you didn’t marry simply to obtain citizenship and then divorce. To make a case that you acted in good faith, many courts want to see documents that indicate you and your spouse intended to remain married for a long time. Some of these documents include joint bank account statements, joint property ownership or rent, joint insurance coverage, and so on. So, how can divorce affect your immigration status? There’s no single answer that fits every individual’s situation, so the solution varies. However, a divorce does not generally affect your chances of becoming a U.S. citizen, but may merely extend the process.

Given that you’re not originally from the country and may be unfamiliar with many U.S. laws, you must hire a divorce attorney. Our team at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck has spent decades representing our clients. We have some of the best attorneys in Illinois, and we always place our clients’ best interest at the forefront of our decisions. So, look no further than Schiller DuCanto & Fleck for help with a marital settlement agreement in Illinois. Contact us today for more information.

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