Written by attorney JoAnn Lois Barten

Marital Separation Before Approval of the Green Card

In order to be eligible for the green card through marriage to a US citizen, the US citizen and foreign national must be married at the time of filing the application and at the time the US government processes the application. The marriage must be genuine. The US government looks at whether the spouses intended to establish a life together at the start of their marriage. Sometimes the spouses file the application for the green card, but separate or divorce before the marriage interview. Divorce of the spouses will result in a denial of the case. Mere separation increases the risk of denial of the case. It does not automatically cancel the case as long as the applicant can show the marriage was valid at the beginning. Before separating, the foreign national should make sure to have documents that evidence the couple took active steps to establish a life together. Separation of the spouses will also likely cause the US government interviewer to ask deeper questions about the marriage. Examples of questions are the layout of furniture in the marital residence, where each spouse parked their cars, the names of family members, friends and pets of the other spouse, or where the other spouse goes grocery shopping. Often these interviews are videotaped. If the interview results in a denial of the application for the green card, the denial can be appealed. In addition to denying the case, the US government could also transfer the case the Immigration Court for removal (deportation) proceedings. The application could have an appeal and removal proceedings going on at the same time. In Immigration Court, the judge can still grant the application for the green card, however, the applicant will require even more proof the marriage was real at the start through the use of witnesses and if possible even more documents. The information contained in this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Due to the frequent changes in laws and regulations, the accuracy and timeliness of the contents of this article are not guaranteed. The reader of this article should seek professional advice before taking any action.

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