HOW TO REMOVE CONDITIONAL STATUS AFTER DIVORCE - THE GOOD FAITH WAIVER
The removal of conditions on a 2 year green card is a joint petition with the husband and wife. However, sometimes the couple is no longer together. If the couple is no longer together the immigrant may be able to file a waiver using the same form I-751 but with additional evidence.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE U.S. CITIZEN SPOUSE CANNOT OR WILL NOT FILE THE JOINT PETITION FOR REMOVAL OF CONDITION?
If the couple does not file jointly the green card status may be terminated by the immigration services. However, there may be a way to file a waiver to remove the conditions on residence if:
- The couple entered into the marriage in good faith, but the U.S. citizen spouse subsequently died;
- The couple entered into the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was later terminated due to divorce or annulment,
- The couple entered into the marriage in good faith and have remained married but the immigrant spouse has been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or
- The termination of the immigrant's status and removal would result in extreme hardship.
THIS ARTICLE DEALS WITH WAIVERS WHEN A COUPLE ENTERED INTO THE MARRIAGE IN GOOD FAITH, BUT THE MARRIAGE WAS LATER TERMINATED DUE TO DIVORCE OR ANNULMENT. THIS IS ALSO CALLED THE "GOOD FAITH MARRIAGE WAIVER".
The "good faith marriage waiver" requires that the marriage be terminated before the immigrant files a waiver to remove the conditional status via divorce of annulment. The immigrant must prove to the immigration services that the couple entered the marriage in good faith but due to unforeseen circumstances the marriage was terminated by Divorce or Annulment.
HOW DO YOU PROVE A MARRIAGE WAS ENTERED IN GOOD FAITH?
A good way to prove a marriage was entered in good faith is lots of evidence of the relationship.
Below is a list of examples of the evidence that may be submitted with the removal of condition petition waiver using form I-751. Not all such evidence is required but the more documented proof you have the better it will be for the immigration services to believe your case. The following are some documentation and other evidence that may be submitted with the petition waiver:
★ Please Note the most effective evidence will start from the time that the marriage began up until the present.
- Divorce Judgment and any other court documentation;
- Copy of front and back of the permanent resident card (green card);
- Two passport photographs;
- All leases or mortgage statements showing joint occupancy and/or ownership of your communal residence;
- Copy of your marriage certificate;
- Copy of your Passport;
- Copy of your ex-spouses US Passport, Birth Certificate and/or a Naturalization Certificate;
- Copy of both you and your ex-spouses driver's licenses or non-drivers State ID showing your same address;
- Copy of your children's birth certificate if any;
- Any other proof you consider relevant to establish that your marriage was entered in "good faith".
- Reason for the divorce?
- Financial records showing joint ownership of assets and joint responsibility for liabilities, such as:
- Joint savings and checking accounts,
- Joint federal and state tax returns,
- Insurance policies with the other spouse as the beneficiary,
- Joint utility bills,
- Joint installments and
- Joint loans and copies of any other documents that show your life together,
- Cars, boats, jewelry, stocks and or bonds, any assets held jointly at any point,
- Photographs traveling together, of the wedding, with family and with friends at events, holidays etc. (it's a good idea to add places, names and dates on the back of the Photos and any other documents you consider relevant to establish your marriage was entered in "good faith" (such as birthday cards, holiday cards, love letters etc.);
- As many Affidavits as you can get from friends, neighbors, colleagues and professionals such as doctors, bankers, lawyers, that knew both of you as a married couple (Affidavits from family are also good but are considered extra). * Please Note it may also be a helpful to get an Affidavit from you ex-spouse simply explaining that you entered the marriage in good faith and lived as husband and wife together (with the address you shared) and that the relationship didn't work.
The Following Is Some Of The Information That Should Be On An Affidavit:
- Full name, address, phone number and occupation/employer if any,
- Date and place of birth, (and should state their status Permanent Resident or US Citizen)
- Explanation of how and when they met each of you, how often do you see each other and at what circumstances (example going out to dinner), please add information if you have been to each other's apartments/houses, holidays, parties etc. and
- a copy of that persons US Passport/Green card/driver's license if possible.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE WAIVER PETITION TO REMOVE CONDITIONS ON RESIDENCE IS SUBMITTED WITH ALL THE EVIDENCE?
About 2-4 weeks later the Immigration Services sends a receipt notice to the immigrant's home address. This receipt may terminate the immigrant's status while waiting for an answer or may extend the green card status for one year.
About 1-4 weeks after the receipt arrives, a biometrics appointment notice will also arrive at the immigrant's home. The biometrics appointment is for immigrant to get their digital fingerprint, picture and signature taken again at a local federal facility.
Processing times vary but usually a decision is given within a year. For many waiver cases the Immigration Services requests the immigrant to come in for another interview to discuss the truthfulness of the case. If the case is approved the immigrant will receive an approval notice and then the 10 year green card in the mail. The 10 year green card is without condition but must be renewed every 10 years. The immigrant may be eligible to apply to be Naturalized as a United States Citizens as early as 5 years from the time they received their original conditional residence card (Please see my article about US Citizenship).