Divorce and Adjusting Status After Marriage

Normally, when someone marries a US citizen, they file a petition for their spouse to help them immigrate (Form I-130). Once this is approved, the spouse files an application for permanent residence, or green card (Form I-485).

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However, the marriage-based green-card process does not always work out. Sometimes, the couple’s relationship fails and they decide to divorce or legally separate. This can have a big impact on the immigration process because, for most family-based adjusting status after marriage cases, you must still be in a qualifying relationship with your spouse when your case is adjudicated.

In the case of K-1 (fiance visa) holders, if you get divorced before your adjustment of status interview, your ability to continue the process will be in jeopardy since your nonimmigrant visa expires while your green card is pending. In fact, in a recent case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a K-1 visa holder divorced her U.S. Citizen husband before their adjustment of status interview, and she was not able to adjust her status because she no longer had a qualifying relationship with her husband.

For this reason, it is important to do everything you can to avoid a divorce or legal separation before your adjustment of status interview. This can include proving that your marriage is legitimate, such as photos, joint assets, communication channels, and more. Also, be sure to keep your USCIS filings up-to-date. USCIS officers are on the lookout for fraud and will closely scrutinize your case if you have an old or unadjudicated visa-based case.