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Do all immigrant spouses need to leave the U.S. after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2021 | Immigration

Family-based immigration helps thousands of people enter the United States every year. Many of these people come to reconnect with a spouse who traveled before them or to finally marry a fiance who is a permanent resident or citizen.  

Despite your best intentions, your marriage may not work out. Your spouse might have an extramarital affair. They might even be abusive toward you. If you divorce the person who helped you enter the United States, does that mean you will need to leave the country? 

Have you already secured your Green Card? 

If you have taken the necessary steps to become a permanent residence, your divorce may not affect your status. Provided that you notify the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about the change in your marital status and living arrangements, you may be able to continue staying in the United States indefinitely.  

Can you qualify for a visa another way?  

You may be able to qualify for certain specialized visas as someone who has lived in the United States. These may put you on a path to permanent residency in the future. Even if you don’t have your Green Card and don’t qualify for a visa, there is one other scenario that could allow you to stay in the country. 

Are you the victim of domestic violence or another crime?  

If your ex has been physically abusive towards you or has forced you into criminal activity such as prostitution, you may qualify for a special visa. The U visa program helps victims of crimes feel more comfortable speaking up against the people that hurt them.  

If you agree to help with the prosecution of your spouse, you may qualify for this special visa as the victim of a crime. A U visa will allow you to stay in the United States during the prosecution of the offense and afterward. You may then be able to establish your eligibility for a different visa program when your U visa finally expires.  

Being an immigrant who entered the country on a family visa does not mean you have to endure an unhappy or abusive marriage. Knowing your immigration rights can help you escape an unhealthy marital situation.