Mon | Feb 6, 2023

All by myself

Published:Tuesday | March 16, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practices in Florida.

Good morning Mrs Huntington-Walker,

I have spoken to you by phone before when I was working at a resort in Florida in 2008. I am now married with a conditional green card which expires in December of this year.

The marriage is not going as it should. As for taxes, my wife wants to file separately, but I am asking her for us to do it together. I try to tell her it is not about the money, it is just the process needed for her to follow. However, she refuses to do it and I want out. We constantly argues about other stuff and the way she talks, I have no assurance she will continue through with the process.

What option do I have? She has threatened to mess up the process, so I do not trust her and I want out. Believe me, there is no way to make up as she will not listen or take my suggestions into account. There is more to the story. I live with my brother but my mail still goes to her house and I get them.


Dear RLT

I am sorry your marriage is not working out. Unfortunately, approximately half of all marriages in America end in divorce.

You received a conditional green card because, at the time of your interview, you were married to your United States (US) citizen wife for less than two years. Your conditional green card is valid for two years and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires you to file to remove the conditional 90 days before the card expires.

Proof of marriage

Persons who receive conditional green cards are required to provide proof they continued to live with their US citizen spouse during the two years following the initial approval and that they continued to comingle their assets and debts. They must provide affidavits from friends and/or relatives who will attest under oath that they know the couple as man and wife. Photographs showing the couple together and socialising with others should also be submitted.

The petition to remove the condition on the green card can be filed jointly or singly by the resident.

The problem you are facing is your wife and yourself are separated. You cannot be separated and file a joint petition to remove the condition if you are not living together. You must be divorced. Therefore, at this point, it does not matter that you are not going to file your taxes together because you are not living together.

You must file for divorce and, 90 days before the expiration of the green card, file a single-signed petition to remove the condition on the green card. You must submit all the evidence in your possession to show you continued to live with your wife from the date of the green card approval to the separation date. Include in the petition a certified copy of your final judgment of divorce.

There is no need to remain married if you are sure your marriage is over and there is no hope of reconciliation. In your case, the faster you move to file your divorce, the better off you will be as you do not know if your wife will contest it and begin making demands during the process.

Divorce before card expiration

You need to be divorced before your card expires. Additionally, since she is giving you hints that she does not wish to assist you with the remainder of your immigration process, you need to act to preserve your status. Even if she says that she will help you finish the process, if you are not living together it cannot work.

USCIS investigates the validity of marriages. Until you have a permanent green card, i.e. one that is valid for 10 years, you have to live your life as if someone is looking over your shoulder. The removal of the condition stage of permanent residency can be more difficult than the initial green-card processing, especially in your case, where the couple has separated. If USCIS is not convinced your marriage was valid, they can deny you the permanent green card and place you in deportation proceedings.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practices in Florida in the areas of immigration, family, corporate and personal injury law. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. or