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What happens if you divorce before immigration interview?

Getting divorced can complicate immigration cases in progress. If you are in the process of obtaining a green card through marriage and get divorced before your immigration interview, it can significantly impact the outcome of your case. In this article, we will explore what happens if you divorce before your immigration interview, the consequences, and steps you can take to protect your immigration status.

Does divorce automatically cancel your green card application?

No, a divorce does not automatically cancel or invalidate your green card application. However, it does change the circumstances of your application.

When you apply for a marriage-based green card, you are applying as the spouse of a U.S. citizen or green card holder. If you divorce before obtaining permanent residency, you are no longer eligible to immigrate as their spouse.

Your green card application is not automatically denied or cancelled when you divorce. Your application will continue to be processed and you will still need to attend your immigration interview. However, you will likely no longer qualify for the green card through marriage.

Consequences of divorcing before the interview

Here are some potential consequences of divorcing before your marriage-based green card interview:

Your green card application will be denied

Since you are no longer married to the petitioner, you cannot obtain a green card through them. Unless you qualify for a green card through another pathway, your application will most likely be denied at the interview.

You may be suspected of green card fraud

Marrying just to get a green card is considered immigration fraud. Divorcing shortly after applying for residency can raise suspicions that your marriage was not real. You will need strong evidence that your marriage was bona fide.

You may face immigration penalties

If your marriage is determined to be fraudulent, you can face severe immigration penalties. This includes deportation, multi-year bans from returning to the U.S., and being permanently unable to get a green card.

Wasted application fees and time

Getting divorced requires restarting the green card process. This means paying fees again and spending more time on the application. The entire process can take 1-2 years.

Can you still get a green card after divorcing?

It is possible to still get a green card after divorcing before your interview, but your options are limited. Here are some possibilities:

Change to a new family-based category

If you have another immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen, such as a parent, adult child, or sibling, they may be able to petition for you. You would have to restart the whole process.

Remarriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder

If you remarry and your new spouse petitions for you, you can apply for a green card through them. You will still need to provide evidence that your previous marriage was real.

Apply through employment

If you are eligible for an employment-based green card, your employer can petition for you and you can change to that category.

Victim of domestic violence

If your marriage ended due to domestic violence, you may qualify for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). You would need evidence of the abuse.

Humanitarian reinstatement

In very limited circumstances, USCIS can reinstate your revoked petition if you can prove extreme hardship. This is difficult to obtain.

Can you stay in the U.S. after divorce?

If your green card application is denied after divorce, you have a few options to legally remain in the U.S.:

Change to a temporary visa

If eligible, you may be able change to a temporary visa such as an H-1B work visa or F-1 student visa. This would allow you to live in the U.S. legally for a limited time.

Dependents can stay

If you have a dependent child who is a U.S. citizen, they can file a petition so you can remain in the U.S. with them. You may be eligible for a green card through them when they turn 21.

Voluntary departure

Instead of deportation, USCIS may give you up to 120 days for voluntary departure. You must leave the U.S. within the time given.

Cancellation of removal

If you have been in the U.S. for over 10 years, have good moral character, and removal would cause exceptional hardship to a spouse, parent, or child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may qualify to stay.

Steps to take when divorcing before an interview

If you plan to divorce before your green card interview, here are some steps to take:

Notify USCIS immediately

File Form I-864W withdrawing your affidavit of support. Also submit divorce documentation and inform USCIS in writing of your change in marital status.

Get divorced properly

Follow all laws and court procedures to legally complete your divorce. USCIS will look for a final divorce decree.

Gather evidence your marriage was real

Obtain evidence like joint accounts, photos, and affidavits from family & friends to prove your marriage was entered in good faith.

Consult an immigration attorney

Discuss your options with an experienced immigration lawyer. They can help prepare your case and represent you at the interview.

Have an alternative green card strategy

Apply for a green card through employment or a family member so you have a backup plan.

Attend your interview

You must still attend your scheduled immigration interview. Be prepared to answer questions about your marriage and divorce.


Divorcing before obtaining your green card through marriage will likely lead to denial of your application. However, you may still have options to legally remain in the U.S. if you take appropriate steps. The most important things are notifying USCIS promptly, having evidence your marriage was real, and exploring alternative green card pathways. An experienced immigration attorney can best advise you on your options and strategy.