Impact of Divorce on I-485 Application
The outcome of an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status (AOS) can be significantly affected by divorce, introducing legal complexities and necessitating an appraisal of changed circumstances.
When an individual’s I-485 is based on a family-sponsored petition, divorce before the approval can lead to the denial of the application. Specifically, if the application was filed via Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) by a spouse, a finalized divorce effectively terminates the relationship upon which the immigration benefit was sought. As a result, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may deny the application, leaving the individual without a legal immigration status.
In contrast, for employment-based I-485 applications where the spouse is a derivative applicant, the impact may vary. Though divorce might not directly affect the primary applicant’s status, the ex-spouse could lose their derivative status and thus may have to apply for a different immigration status or leave the United States if they no longer meet the criteria for AOS.
Change of Circumstances
Following a divorce, USCIS must be notified of the change in marital status, as it constitutes a significant change in circumstances that can affect the outcome of the pending I-485 application.
- For family-based I-485 applicants, unless protections like the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) apply, they generally have a limited timeframe to either adjust their application based on a new qualifying relationship or to seek another immigration pathway.
- For employment-based derivative applicants, the grace period after a divorce is not explicitly defined by USCIS, and individual circumstances can influence whether the applicant needs to leave the country or adjust their status through other means, such as obtaining a non-immigrant visa.
It is important for individuals in this situation to consult with an immigration attorney for specific advice tailored to their unique case.