Divorce After Citizenship: How Does It Affect the Status?

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By Divorce & Finance

Divorce after citizenship is difficult for spouses and can be emotionally and financially draining. When one or both spouses are immigrants who have acquired citizenship in their adopted country, divorce can become even more complex.

Divorce after citizenship

In such cases, the spouses may face additional legal challenges related to their immigration status and ability to remain in the country.

This article explores the legal implications of divorce after citizenship, including the impact on residency, employment, and other aspects of life.

Can Spouses Divorce After Obtaining Citizenship?

Spouses can divorce after obtaining citizenship. Citizenship status does not affect a person’s ability to get a divorce. If a married couple is experiencing irreconcilable differences, they have the legal right to end their marriage through a divorce, regardless of their citizenship status. There are many ways to ask for a divorce that will make the whole process easier and smoother.

However, if one or both spouses are non-citizens, there may be additional considerations and potential complications during the divorce process. For example, issues related to immigration status, spousal support, and property division may arise, which can make the divorce process more complex and time-consuming.

Can Citizenship Status Affect Divorce Proceedings?

Citizenship status can impact divorce proceedings, especially if one or both spouses are non-citizens. Some important aspects that need consideration before seeking a divorce include jurisdiction, residency requirements, immigration status, property division, and spousal support. These can all complicate a divorce.

Can citizenship status affect divorce proceedings

– Jurisdiction

The court’s ability to hear and decide a divorce case is determined by jurisdiction. If one or both spouses are non-citizens, the court must determine if it has jurisdiction to hear the case.

The court will look at things such as where the parties were married, where they currently reside, and where the assets are located to determine if it has jurisdiction to hear the case.

– Residency Requirements

Most states have residency requirements that govern divorce. For instance, a state may require that a spouse has been a resident for a certain period before being eligible to file for divorce.

Non-citizen spouses may face additional challenges in meeting residency requirements if they have not lived in the United States for a sufficient amount of time.

– Property Division

Dividing property and assets can be complicated in any divorce, but it can be even more complex when one or both spouses are non-citizens. Non-citizen spouses may have property or assets in their home country, which can make it difficult to determine how to divide property and assets fairly.

Additionally, property division can impact a non-citizen spouse’s immigration status, as certain assets may be required to be held in a certain way to maintain their status.

– Immigration Status

Divorce can have an impact on a non-citizen spouse’s immigration status. For example, if a non-citizen spouse is on a visa tied to their marriage, a divorce may cause them to lose their immigration status and be required to leave the country.

Additionally, if a non-citizen spouse is dependent on their U.S. citizen spouse for immigration sponsorship, they may need alternative sponsorship to remain in the country.

– Spousal Support

Non-citizen spouses may be entitled to spousal support, also known as alimony, after a divorce. However, spousal support can be impacted by a non-citizen spouse’s immigration.

For instance, if a non-citizen spouse is not authorized to work in the country, the court may consider this when determining the amount of spousal support to award.

How Does Divorce Extend the Timeline to Gain Citizenship?

Divorce extends the timeline to gain citizenship by prolonging the process of obtaining a green card. If an individual is married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and has filed a citizenship application based on that marriage, a divorce can delay or even jeopardize the green card approval.

Without obtaining permanent green cards, they will not be eligible to apply for citizenship until they have another pathway to permanent residency. Even if an individual obtains a green card, they may need to wait longer before they can apply for citizenship if they have divorced. Generally, an individual must be a permanent resident for at least five years before they can apply for citizenship.

However, if the individual obtained their green card after marrying a U.S. citizen, they may be eligible to apply for citizenship after three years of permanent residency. If the individual divorces their U.S. citizen spouse, having been a permanent resident for three years, they will need to wait an additional two years before applying for citizenship.

In addition, if the individual obtained their green card and finalized their divorce after citizenship through marriage within the first two years of their permanent residency, they may be subject to additional scrutiny to establish whether theirs was a bona fide marriage. Usually, the USCIS is wary of such situations due to cases of marriage fraud

How Does Divorce Affect Your Naturalization Process?

Divorce can affect your naturalization process differently depending on your position in the citizenship process and your spouse’s status. Generally, divorce will affect you if you’re a conditional permanent resident or depend on your spouse’s status. Whether you divorce before or after obtaining a green card can also affect this.

How does divorce affect your naturalization process

– Divorce After Green Card Application

Where one spouse applied for a marriage green card based on their marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident but divorced before the green card was granted, the application will likely be denied. In most cases, the marriage must be bona fide (genuine) when the green card is granted. 

If you divorce while your residence application is pending, you could continue with the application based on other factors, such as your employment or investment in the country. However, it is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney to determine the best course of action based on your circumstances.

Divorcing after your green card is granted doesn’t impact your status as a permanent resident. However, if you’re granted a green card, divorce before 2 years from the date of issuance could lead to a review process to determine whether the marriage was legitimate at the time the green card was granted.

– Divorce After a Conditional Green Card

If you have a two-year permanent residence card set to expire, but you are still married to the permanent resident who sponsored your green card, you must file a joint petition for removing conditions on your green card before the expiration date. If you divorce before filing the joint petition, you may still be able to remove conditions by filing a waiver request for the joint filing requirement.

You must demonstrate that you entered the marriage in good faith and that the marriage was legitimate. If you are divorced and have not yet filed a joint petition to remove the conditions on your green card, you may file form I-751 and prove that your marriage was genuine and you entered it in good faith.

How Does Divorce Affect a Non-Citizen Spouse’s Immigration Status?

Divorce affects a non-citizen spouse’s immigration status negatively, especially if they are dependent on their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse for sponsorship. Some important issues to consider include conditional residency, adjustment of status, and the risk of deportation.

Immigration status

– Conditional Residency

Non-citizen spouses who obtain conditional residence by marrying a United States citizen or permanent resident must file a joint petition (Form I75) to remove the conditions within 90 days before the second anniversary of receiving the residence card. If you divorce after conditional green card application, but before the removal of conditions, the non-citizen spouse may have to file for a waiver of the joint filing requirement to maintain their permanent resident status.

– Loss of Sponsorship

For a non-citizen spouse dependent on their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse for sponsorship, divorce can cause them to lose their immigration status. That’s because the sponsor has a legal obligation to support the non-citizen spouse for a certain period, typically ten years. 

If the couple divorces before the non-citizen spouse receives a marriage-based green card, the non-citizen spouse may lose their immigration status and be required to leave the country.

– Adjustment of Status

For a non-citizen spouse who’s in the process of adjusting their status to that of a permanent resident, divorce can cause the adjustment of status application to be denied. The U.S. government will no longer consider the non-citizen spouse eligible for permanent residency based on their marriage to a United States citizen or permanent resident.

– Deportation

When a non-citizen spouse’s immigration status is dependent on marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, divorce can make them vulnerable to deportation.

If the non-citizen spouse loses their immigration status due to divorce, they may be placed in removal proceedings and may be required to leave the country.


Divorce after citizenship may not necessarily affect your green card status and may be an option if your marriage doesn’t work out.

This article has discussed the various aspects of divorce in the naturalization process, so here’s the takeaway:

  • Divorce after obtaining citizenship will not affect a person’s citizenship. A person will not lose their citizenship after divorce unless it was obtained fraudulently.
  • Non-citizen spouses can obtain a divorce in the United States, but their immigration status may be affected, particularly if they are conditional green card holders or in the process of naturalization.
  • Divorce can significantly impact a non-citizen spouse’s immigration status, potentially leading to deportation, the need to change immigration status, or a delay in obtaining citizenship.
  • Divorce after a permanent residence application can lead to delays and potential complications in the immigration process, including the need to file waivers or provide evidence of a legitimate marriage.

Divorce after citizenship can have complex and far-reaching effects on immigration status and the timeline for obtaining citizenship, and it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer to navigate the process effectively.

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