Sometimes a person enters the United States as the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to get married and live in the United States. If so, they might be granted a conditional green card. The conditional green card is granted to those who have been married less than two years from the date the green card was issued.
Once two years has passed since their arrival in the United States, the conditional green card holder can apply with their spouse to have the conditions removed. Generally, this must be done jointly by the spouses. But what if the green card holder is no longer married when this time comes? Can they renew their green card and stay in the United States?
Green cards and divorce
If you have a permanent green card, and you divorce, your divorce generally will not affect your ability to renew your green card. You can remain in the United States, barring any circumstances that would warrant removal.
If you have a conditional green card, and you divorce, you might encounter some issues when the time comes to renew your green card.
You can file a Form I-751, which effectively allows you to renew your green card condition-free. But you must prove your marriage was not a sham marriage or fraudulent. You need to have married in good faith to obtain an I-751 waiver.
To show your marriage was legitimate, you might have to provide copies of documents that can demonstrate your marriage was real, such as copies of joint bank statements or copies of your lease where you resided with your spouse. You might also have to provide a written statement where you detail why you decided to divorce.
If you apply for a waiver of joint filing requirements due to divorce, and you can show you did not simply marry to avoid compliance with U.S. immigration laws, you might be able to renew your green card on your own. That means that you can stay in the United States as a permanent resident, even though you are no longer married to a U.S. citizen.