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Dealing With Divorce Prior to the I-751 Petition

Immigration through marriage is one of the most common methods of obtaining legal resident status in the United States, but it can also be a delicate and difficult process. Marriages are complex affairs that encompass civil laws with interpersonal, familial, and romantic relationships. When marriages become the basis of immigration petitions, they are held up to rigorous scrutiny. Click here for more information about family petitions for the marriage to a US citizen or permanent resident.

One of the initial immigration benefits extended to immigrants who marry citizens of the United States is a conditional green card, which is good for two years. The next step in the process to becoming a lawful permanent resident is to remove those conditions by means of an I-751 petition filing. Immigrant spouses filing I-751 petitions are generally expected to still be married to the U.S. citizen who sponsored them; alas, this may not always be the case. Divorces are just as common as marriages, and this is something that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is quite aware of.

Contrary to what many people think, a divorce does not nullify an I-751 petition. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind in this regard. The actual status of the marriage is very important; it is actually better for the immigrant spouse to finalize the divorce proceedings when the I-751 is filed. USCIS officers want to see a bona fide divorce just as much as they wanted to see a bona fide marriage when the conditional green card was granted. It is better, when possible, to file as a divorced person 90 days prior to the expiration of the conditional residence period.

It is crucial to include an affidavit that explains the circumstances surrounding the divorce, and this document must be prepared by an immigration attorney familiar with the case. The affidavit must establish in clear and trustworthy language that both the marriage and divorce were carried out in good faith. It may be difficult to write about extramarital affairs and even children born outside of the marriage, but these are crucial events that immigration attorneys must know about before the I-751 petition is submitted.

If you are looking to file for divorce and need assistance with your legal paperwork or the correct completion of an affidavit, the professional San Diego immigration lawyers at Kazmi and Sakata are here to help. Call us at 858-874-0711 for a free consultation and receive expert advice and assistance during this difficult time.

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