Recently, I received a call from a gentleman who was in a very difficult and stressful situation. He married a US citizen while he was here on a visa. His wife then filed an I-130 on his behalf and he filed an application for adjustment of status. Fortunately, the process went smoothly. The I-130 was accepted, the interview with USCIS went well and he was granted a green card.
The Conditional Marriage Based Green Card
Since the marriage was new, the green card was a conditional green card. With a conditional green card, the holder has to apply with their spouse to remove the conditions two years later. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Things didn’t go as planned for the caller. His marriage ended in divorce which was stressful enough. But to make matters worse, his future in the United States was now in jeopardy. This gentleman loved living in the United States. He had made a lot of friends and he had an amazing job. He was calling an immigration lawyer to discuss possible options for staying in the United States.
Fortunately, people in this situation oftentimes have options for remaining in the country that they have grown to love. This post explores the options that you may have if you find yourself on this type of scenario.
Options for Conditional Green Card Holders Who Get Divorced
A Finalized Divorce + Evidence of a Legitimate Marriage
The first option is available for people who are already divorced. If your divorce has been finalized, you can qualify for a waiver if you can prove to USCIS that your marriage was genuine. To prove that, we would use the same sort of evidence you submitted with your initial marriage-based application process. This sort of evidence includes photos, statements from friends and family, itineraries from trips that you took together etc.
Victims of Abuse
Another option is available for those who are victims of abuse. Fortunately, USCIS recognizes that there are many forms of abuse. Therefore, you do not have to show that you suffered physical abuse. Psychological abuse can serve as the basis for a successful I-751 petition. In psychological abuse cases, it is helpful if not essential to seek an evaluation and a report from a professional who is well versed on the topic of psychological abuse.
If the two options above do not apply to your situation, then there is a third option that may be possible to pursue. This option requires you to show that you would suffer extreme hardship if you were required to return to your home country. This is a change from the typical immigration waiver scenario that requires a showing that a US Citizen or Green Card Holder would suffer extreme hardship.
What is Extreme Hardship?
The regulations do not define the term “extreme hardship.” However, court cases do provide us with some guidance. The cases say that in deciding the issue of extreme hardship USCIS will consider age; length of presence in the US.; family ties to the US versus to the foreign country; community ties; financial impact; health issues; and the availability of immigration benefits.