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How divorce affects immigration status

There are several ways for immigrants to become legal citizens of the United States. One of the most common methods most people are familiar with is for an immigrant to marry someone who is already a citizen

However, the naturalization process is rarely simple, and there are still hurdles to jump over even after the marriage. One matter that can complicate things is if the marriage ends before the person becomes a citizen. Many couples divorce after only a year or two, and it is important to know how this already stressful life event will impact the citizenship proceedings

It comes down to conditional permanent residence status

When an immigrant marries a U.S. citizen, the immigrant receives a status known as "conditional permanent residence." This status lasts for two years, and it essentially means that although the individual is not a full-fledged citizen of the country, the person does have the basic rights that come with citizenship. During that two-year period, the individual must send a petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to apply for full permanent residence. This is a problem because if the divorce is completed before that process is finished, then the person will automatically lose the conditional permanent residence status. Even a pending divorce can negatively affect the proceedings. 

Separation can be more advantageous in this instance

A divorce is a legal separation between two people. However, some couples prefer to undergo a trial separation before divorcing completely, or they want to separate at first to figure out if they truly want to go through with the divorce. In a majority of cases, a trial separation will not affect a person's citizenship status. Other routes couples can take involve permanent and legal separation, and while both differ from divorce slightly, they can potentially impact a person's status. It is critical for people to protect themselves so that they do not lose everything during this time.

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