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Is gaining U.S. citizenship possible after divorce?

A man who married a U.S. citizen last year is wondering if he will still be able to receive a permanent green card after his wife has left him. His wife filed a petition for him and he applied to become a permanent resident of the United States. He received a two-year, temporary green card after he married his wife. His wife has since left him and he wants to know what his chances are for him to obtain a permanent residency card to remain in the United States. Some Texas residents might be interested in the answer, according to a newspaper columnist who stated that divorce might be his best option.

There are three aspects that will be considered to remove the 'conditional' aspect of a residency card without a spouse having to sign papers to waive the conditions. First, you must have entered into the marriage in "good faith" and actually married for legitimate, real purposes, not for fraudulent purposes. And your marriage must be terminated through a divorce or annulment.

Or if you have been the victim of domestic or spousal abuse, or your child has suffered domestic abuse from your spouse, you may qualify for removal of the conditions set in your temporary green card. Lastly, if leaving the United States would cause extreme hardship or suffering the conditions may be removed. The best option in the case described in the report might be to demonstrate that you entered into your marriage in good faith. Proof of a real marriage could include your spouse filing his or her income taxes using the married status, or other proof of the legitimacy of the marriage may suffice.

Obtaining a divorce is necessary for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to consider your petition. Once you file the necessary paperwork you will have 87 days in which to obtain a divorce decree or annulment. Depending on your particular situation, it may be beneficial to consult with a divorce attorney in your state to inquire about your case and the amount of time required before your divorce or annulment is finalized.

Source: Daily News, "Divorce may be his best path to green card," Allan Wernick, July 25, 2012

Our Houston, Texas, family law practice handles divorce, including collaborative divorce law and multi-state child custody and support legal services.

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