An unhealthy marriage is hard to handle. You may feel like you have no options if your residence in the United States depends on your marital status. Whether you entered the country on a fiance visa when you got engaged to an American citizen or you applied for a visa when your spouse entered the United States to work, your immigration status depends on your marital circumstances.
If you get divorced, that could affect your right to stay in the United States. How can you avoid losing your residency if your marriage fails?
You can ask to have your residency conditions adjusted
You entered the country on a fiance visa and received a temporary, two-year green card, you can possibly prevent a future divorce from affecting your immigration rights. You will need to have the cooperation of your spouse to use this approach. The same option could apply to someone who divorced in the first two years of marriage that can show they entered the marriage in good faith.
By submitting a form to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you request the removal of marriage status conditions from your permanent resident status. Provided that the USCIS approves your request, you can then potentially protect your right to stay in the country even if your marriage ends.
You can ask for protection against an abusive spouse
Sometimes, spouses abuse their immigrant partners because they think their spouse has no options. If your spouse has physically assaulted you or committed other crimes against you, you can leave them and still protect your right to stay in the United States.
A U visa could potentially give you grounds to remain in the United States during and after a divorce related to domestic violence or crime. You may have to help prosecute the person who abused you to qualify. There may be other programs available to help as well, including asylum requests for victims of abuse whose spouses have already gotten deported.
Divorce can change your immigration rights. Understanding what impact a change to your marriage could have on your visa or Green Card can help you make better choices. With the right help and information, you may be able to end an unhappy marriage while protecting your right to live in the United States.