First, you will have to file two I-751s. File the first one by yourself even though the divorce is not final. Your case will be transferred to Baltimore or you will get a notice of intent to deny. As soon as the divorce is final, file a second I-751. If you get called to an interview in Baltimore on the first filing, show them the receipt for the second and the final decree. I have had this exact situation several times and it does work out as long as your marriage was bona fide at inception.
Do NOT file a joint petition if you are not living together the day you file.. I have a case where a client filed the I-751 jointly because her husband had already signed it. She got approval of the I-751 and then when she applied to naturalize years later in Baltimore, she was denied on the basis of fraud in fiilng the original I-751 when her husband had not lived with her at the time.
This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consultation with an experienced competent immigration attorney is often the best way to address the complexities of individual immigration issues.
I agree with Cynthia on this, you can file the I-751 as a waiver case (without your wife) now, but you will be asked for the divorce decree in fairly short order and will be likely given 87 days to provide it. If you don't have it by that time, the case will be denied. Timing is important and there is little wiggle room.
I vary slightly on Cynthia's advice on Joint filing of the I-751 after separation. In this type of case, I believe that you can file jointly as long as you are very clear that you and your wife are separated. The big problem comes when you present the case as living together and really are not. And like Cynthia suggests, you need to be looking forward at your naturalization. The USCIS recently issued guidance on this - see link below.
It is often documenting the conflicts in the marriage which can show that it is a legitimate marriage. Presentation of this type of evidence can be contrary to your instincts and can be a minefield. That’s why this type of case is very complicated, evidence intensive, and really requires the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. Thoughtful and timely presentation of your case is paramount to it success and your future naturalization.
NOTE: This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consultation with an experienced competent immigration attorney is often the best way to address the complexities of individual immigration issues.