Written by attorney Christina Weber Crudden

I-751 and Divorce

If you are a conditional permanent resident and considering divorce before the conditions on your green card are removed, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First, you want to make sure that your divorce will be final before you have to file to remove the conditions. There is no category for "in the process of getting a divorce but not quite there yet," so being separated but not divorced can cause delays in getting the conditions lifted. Being divorced at the time you file is not a deal-breaker in an I-751 case, but it does require a level of preparation beyond that which a married couple filing jointly would expect. You should be prepared to answer detailed questions about your marriage and your relationship, and you should answer as many of these questions as you can when filing the application. To do this, I recommend preparing a through, detailed affidavit explaining your courtship, your marriage, and what went wrong in your marriage to cause the divorce. This should be specific and honest--avoid generalities, which can seem evasive ("We stopped connecting;" "the spark was no longer there"). Instead, be honest about what went wrong--were your expectations different from reality? Did habits you thought you could change turn out to be deal-breakers? DId one or other other of you have an affair, or have problems with drugs or alcohol? If you had an affair that led to the end of your marriage, be aware that USCIS will likely be very interested in this information, especially if you have had a child out of wedlock. DO NOT try to conceal this information. Instead, you must confront the issue head-on and without making excuses for your behavior. Especially if the affair was with someone you knew before your marriage, or if you are now married to the person with whom you cheated, USCIS may be suspicious that this relationship, and not the relationship with your US citizen spouse, was the genuine one. It is your responsibility to prove that your relationship was bona fide, even though you may have done this once before already when applying for adjustment of status. You must not only be prepared to tell the story of your relationship, but also be prepared to back it up with documentary evidence, like joint accounts, joint bills, cards and letters exchanged, affidavits from friends and family, joint lease agreements, and photos of the two of you together (especially with other people, like friends and family, around). Being prepared is the best way to stay calm and avoid adding unnecessary stress to what is already a stressful situation. In any I-751 case where you are separated or divorced, or considering divorce, it is important that you talk to a qualified attorney about your own situation. He or she can help you to collect the documents you will need, and can ensure that the documents you submit will help your case. Your attorney can also work with you to ensure that your affidavit is detailed and on-topic. You are more likely to be called in for an interview if you are divorced, and you should be prepared to present evidence and answer specific questions about your case at that time. An attorney can attend the interview with you to ensure that you are comfortable, and can prepare you for what to expect from the interview. Above all, no matter what your situation, remember that being honest and forthcoming will ensure that you are seen as credible by the immigration officer, and will help you receive a favorable evaluation of your case.

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