A divorce can be a costly, emotional, and financially damaging process. For those individuals who have obtained legal status through their spouse, a divorce may feel especially challenging. Here’s what happens to one’s green card after a divorce.

A divorce after a green card can have some effect on the status of the permanent resident. There are, however, some instances where a divorce should have no impact on the non-citizen’s legal status.

What Happens to One’s Green Card After a Divorce

In the majority of instances, a green card holder is not affected by a divorce. If an individual is a permanent resident with a 10-year green card, renewing the card following a divorce is a relatively easy and simple process. A Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card is filed to renew or replace a green card. Once an individual has held a green card for 10 years, marital status does not affect immigration status. It is even possible to change one’s last name to their maiden name that they had prior to marriage.

Related: How to Change Your Name After Divorce in California

A divorce may pose a problem when an individual obtains their legal status through marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In these cases, a conditional green card is issued for 2 years, and immigration services ensure that the marriage was entered in good faith. A divorce issue with this type of green card is that it may cast doubt on whether the marriage was genuine. Immigration services will almost certainly give additional scrutiny in these cases, as they want to make sure that the marriage was entered with good intentions and not to fraudulently obtain a green card. The conditional resident will be required to provide evidence that the marriage was real; the burden to prove the truthfulness of the relationship will be the burden of the conditional resident.

Related: How Divorce Affects Immigration Status


Do I lose my green card if I get divorced?

As above-mentioned, most green card holders are unaffected by divorce if they are a permanent resident with a 10-year green card.

Can I apply for citizenship after 2 years of marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?

One does not need to wait 5 years to apply for citizenship through naturalization. If one stays married and continues to live with their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, they can apply for early citizenship. One can apply for early citizenship after 3 years of obtaining a green card; however, the individual applying for early citizenship has to remain married until they actually obtain their citizenship.

Related: Immigration for Women to the United States

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