A foreigner can get a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) with a two-year expiration date when they marry a U.S. citizen. After two years, they will have to renew it to stay in the United States. But what happens if the marriage does not work out? If you are a foreigner and are thinking about divorcing your U.S. spouse, you may be worried that you will have to leave the country if you decide to end the marriage. However, you can keep your resident status even if you choose to divorce.
Removing the conditions on your residence
If you filed for your Green Card when you were married for less than 2 years to your spouse, you must have gotten a conditional permanent status. Conditional means that your Green Card will expire two years after you became a permanent resident. To remove the conditions and renew your Green Card, you will need to file Form I-751. You can do this even if you decide to end your marriage through divorce or annulment.
Filing the form
To renew your Green Card, you will need to prove to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you entered the marriage in good faith. The authorities consider that a person entered a marriage in good faith if they did not marry the citizen with the sole purpose of getting a Green Card. If you divorce, you won’t need your ex to file the form with you. You can do it alone, but you must do this 90 days before your Green Card expires. Otherwise, you may risk losing your status.
Can my child also renew their Green Card?
If you have a child with a conditional permanent resident status, they can also renew their Green Card. If your child got their Green Card within 90 days of when you did, you can include your child in your form. However, if they received their conditional permanent status more than 90 days after you did, then you must file a separate form for them.
Renewing your Green Card
If your divorce is still pending by the time you file the form, you will need to send the USCIS a copy of the final divorce decree. Once the USCIS approves your petition, your Green Card will be renewed, and you and your children will be able to stay in the country for as long as you like. You have built your life in the United States, and you should not leave everything behind just because your marriage did not work out.