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Getting Your Green Card Through Marriage? Read This If Your Marriage Is On The Rocks

Marriage-based petitions are meant to unify families, especially the spouses of U.S residents. But if a marriage is having difficulties, that can affect a spouse’s ability to obtain a green card. It all depends on the type of immigration status the petitioning partner has and how far into the marriage it has been.

The Duration of A Marriage:

If you’ve been married to your spouse for longer than 2 years at the time of your application, your marriage would be considered “bonafide” or legitimate. Now, if your marriage is less than 2 years old at the time of the application, immigration officials will give the petitioner spouse “conditional residency” meaning that immigration officials will grant temporary residence while they continue the process of vetting your marriage.

About 90 days before the conditional residency is set to expire, both parties will have to file a joint petition and ask for conditions to be removed and grant a green card. If the petitioning spouse is a U.S citizen or a green card holder, the timing of the separation or divorce will affect the likelihood of the green card is granted.

The Immigration Status of Your Spouse:

Typically, anyone married to a green card holder hoping to get a green card themselves will be put on a waiting list until a visa becomes available. This can take years to obtain. However, there is no wait time for spouses of U.S citizens to obtain a visa. Once a visa is granted, people married for less than 2 years are given the conditional residency.

The timing of a separation or divorce coinciding with how far into the application process could affect your case. Generally, the longer you have been married, in addition to whether you are separated or divorced will minimize your chances of having your petition denied.

Separation does not always cause for immigration officials to conclude that the marriage is fake. Separation could be taken as a marriage that was entered in good-faith, but is experiencing issues.

This would require both the petitioner and the spouse to explain the current situation.


If you are interested in learning more about how your separation of divorce could affect your immigration case, give us a call at 714-546-4600 to schedule a free consultation.

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