I have an Immigration Marriage Interview in New York City, but I am currently separated

Does this sound familiar to you?

Statistics show that an overwhelming number of marriages end in divorce. The reasons are many. Sometimes its financial reasons that cause marital issues and other times it’s just because the couple has grown apart. Sometimes . . . the in-laws are even blamed.

The purpose of this piece is to provide some guidance to an individual that filed for a green card (lawful permanent residence) or also called adjustment of status, but is now separated from the U.S. citizen spouse. What can such an individual do? They now have a green card interview and don’t know what to do? Is there anything that can be done?

This is a loaded question. I understand. There may be ways for an individual to continue on the road to a green card without the assistance of the U.S. citizen spouse. The law does allow some individuals who have been mistreated by their U.S. citizen spouses to be able to file a self-petition and continue to try to get a green card on their own. Immigration (USCIS) refers to “extreme cruelty” as the standard. Now, what do I mean by “extreme cruelty”? My belief is that there is no clear cut definition of this term. In some cases, a pattern of emotional or mental abuse is sufficient. Obviously any physical abuse should immediately qualify. The more important question my clients often ask me is how do they prove it? I ask them what do you mean by proof? It’s rare that a person has a video of the abuser performing such acts. The more common way is by putting forth credible believable evidence. Yes, at times even a mere credible sworn statement by the applicant can suffice if detailed enough and bolstered by other evidence. Do not assume that there is no way of proving “extreme cruelty”. The earlier you consult with an attorney the better your chances of making the situation worse than it has become.

Speak to any attorney. All may not be lost. The fact that you are now no longer with your U.S. citizen spouse does not necessarily mean you can no longer get a green card.