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Seperated (to be divorced) Conditional GC holder seeking help or advice

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Hello there.

I'm one of the gullible ones. I was already in the USA legally on a VISA (now expired) when I met my husband. I entered the marriage in good faith thinking things would be spectacular,.. after a year of marriage I applied for a GC and was given the conditional GC in feb 2015. During this waiting period my marriage deteriorated completely, as it was based on a foundation of lies. :(

I tried working it out for a few more months, but there was no hope an I was too unhappy. After a lot of heartache from him and his family, and not a soul cheering on my immigranty self, it was settled - we would get divorced. I moved out and saw a lawyer with my last pennies the next week, and he said that I'll be okay (not deported) if I file for ROC after divorce.

I didn't want to think all this was for nothing, and despite everyone hoping id just pack my stuff and get on a plane to fly home..I'm still here, and still trying hard to make something of myself on my own.

So here's the catch. In my state you have to be seperated for 12 months before you can file for divorce. It will be 12 months since I moved away from my husband in May. Since then (may 2015) I've moved on, but I'm truly struggling with this seperated thing.

I feel like I'm in seperated limbo :(

1.) I have no idea how to file taxes as a seperated (married?) person

2.) I don't know where or how to get healthcare for this year since I was told to not get any govt. funds help if I don't wanna agitate my sponsor with penalties. And every website asks for my marital status, household income, etc,.. No idea what I'm doing.

3.) my lawyer told me he'd charge me $1900 to get me through the divorce and I don't think I'll be able to afford him. What are the "realistic" fees of getting divorced and filing for removal of conditions? Do you HAVE to have a divorce lawyer? Or is it just a lot of paperwork? Should I be worried about anything? Is my husbands family able to have me deported or anything after divorce?

If anyone has ever been stuck in such a seemingly endless position, I'm truly begging for help, advice, words of encouragement or plain ol' honesty.. anything.. Is it worth staying here?


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~Moved from Removing Conditions on Residency to Effects of Major Family Changes since such inquiries are usually discussed in this sub-forum~



07/09/2008: F-1 Interview - Successful
05/01/2013: (L) Married (L)

AOS from F-1:
07/09/2013: AOS package (I-130/I-485/I-756/I-131) fedexed
09/25/2013: AOS Interview with my husband at Milwaukee, WI
03/03/2014: AOS Approved

I-751 Removal of Conditions:

11/13/2015: Received reminder notice dated 11/08 from USCIS to apply for ROC
Day 00 - 12/04/2015: Mailed I-751 package to CSC via USPS Priority Mail
Day 03 - 12/07/2015: I-751 package delivered
Day 05 - 12/09/2015: Check cashed
Day 07 - 12/11/2015: NOA1 received dated 12/07/15
Day 22 - 12/26/2015: Biometric appointment notice received dated 12/19/15
Day 35 - 01/08/2016: Biometric appointment

Day 235 - 07/26/2016: Approved (E-notification of Card Production)

Day 238 - 07/29/2016: Status changed to 'Card Was Mailed to Me'

Day 241 - 08/01/2016: CSC returned original docs that were submitted at the time of application.

Day 241 - 08/01/2016: New status update 'Card was picked up by the United States Postal Service' Priority Mail 2-Day with tracking number provided.

Day 243 - 08/03/2016: Received 10 year Green Card

Day 255 - 08/15/2016: Received NOA2 with approval dated 07/26/2016

Click here for a sample of my cover letter, list of evidence, package assembly & shipping box

Click here for a sample of my I-751 notarized affidavit from a friend



N-400 Naturalization:

12/03/2016: Eligible

Day 00: 12/12/2016 Mailed N-400 to Phoenix, AZ lockbox via USPS Priority Express

Day 01: 12/13/2016 N-400 application delivered

Day 03: 12/15/2016 Credit card charged

Day 07: 12/19/2016 Text & e-mail notification received with a NBC receipt #

Day 11: 12/23/2016 NOA received via mail with priority date 12/13/16

Day 16: 12/28/2016 Received E-mail notification reg. biometrics scheduling

Day 19: 12/31/2016 Received Biometric notice via mail with notice date 12/24/2016

Day 32: 01/13/2017 Biometric appointment

Day 53: 02/03/2017 Received e-mail notification stating I am "in line" for interview scheduling

Day 144: 05/05/2017 Filed an e-request that interview notice was not yet mailed to me

Day 148: 05/09/2017 Received e-mail notification that interview has been scheduled after being in line for 95 days

Day 151: 05/12/2017 Received N-400 Interview notice via USPS

Day 183: 06/13/2017 N-400 Interview at USCIS Milwaukee, WI field office (Approved!) ***To read about my interview experience, click here***

Day 192: 06/22/2017 Received e-mail notification stating I am placed in line for oath ceremony

Day 206: 07/06/2017 Received e-mail notification stating oath ceremony notice was mailed

Day 210: 07/10/2017 Received oath ceremony notice (N-445) via USPS

Day 227: 07/27/2017 Oath Ceremony at Milwaukee, WI!

Dual citizen (France & U.S.A) / OCI card holder


Day 00: 07/27/2017 U.S. passport application at Milwaukee, WI (routine processing)

Day 05: 08/01/2017 Passport application locator number provided

Day 06: 08/02/2017 Checks cashed

Day 12: 08/08/2017 Received 2 e-mails stating that passport processing is over and it has been mailed with tracking # provided

Day 15: 08/11/2017 Received passport book via Priority Mail

Day 18: 08/14/2017 Received passport card via First Class Mail

Day 22: 08/18/2017 Received naturalization certificate back via Priority Mail / Updated citizenship status with SSA

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1.) I have no idea how to file taxes as a seperated (married?) person

If you can agree with your spouse on filing as Married Filing Jointly, you can do that. Otherwise, you have to file as Married Filing Separately. And if your income is low enough (lower than $3950 or something like that), you might not even have to file taxes (though filing could give you money back in some circumstances).

2.) I don't know where or how to get healthcare for this year since I was told to not get any govt. funds help if I don't wanna agitate my sponsor with penalties. And every website asks for my marital status, household income, etc,.. No idea what I'm doing.

True, it is not nice to do something that could potentially cause liability for the person who allowed you to immigrate. But if you have no money, what else can you do? I don't think starving and not having healthcare is a valid option. Also, you getting any government assistance is kind of his fault, because he promised in the Affidavit of Support to supplement you with income if you don't have enough, to reach the 125% poverty level, and he is not doing it. His obligation does not stop at separation or divorce. If he was fulfilling his obligation, then there would be no need for you to get government assistance. Hey, at least you are not suing him for the support (which you could technically do but it is expensive).

3.) my lawyer told me he'd charge me $1900 to get me through the divorce and I don't think I'll be able to afford him. What are the "realistic" fees of getting divorced and filing for removal of conditions? Do you HAVE to have a divorce lawyer? Or is it just a lot of paperwork? Should I be worried about anything?

There are probably legal aid groups in your area that can help low-income and vulnerable people with divorce and stuff like that for free (pro bono). See if you can get help with such a group. Divorce laws are different in every state.

Is my husbands family able to have me deported or anything after divorce?

No. But you have to remember to apply for Removal of Conditions.

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re: healthcare stuff - review healthcare.gov - i bet you will qualify for a program that has less than 23 bucks/month. Legal Permanent Residents qualify. If it seems difficult online because of marital status, call in and talk with a human.

re: divorce filing - you can file without a lawyer. many states you can file and have all of the fees for filing waived if you can prove up indigcency (sp?) or to be a pauper (pauper's oath). the clerk of the court in your jurisdiction can explain more - and usually your county has a website with exact information.

re: his family able to deport you. uhm, no. this is an empty threat by them.

Edited by Darnell

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File your taxes with a tax professional or if you can use the online tax filing software available online but file Married filing Separately.

It is best to file even if your income is below $3950..you could get refund from earned income credit, etc. You wouldn't get it if you don't file, esp if you worked.


CR- 1

Interview :  11/15/2016

Result: AP  (form 221 (g))

Correspondence with Embassy: Tons of emails, Facebook posts, tweets, Congressman inquiry

Complaint letter with OIG : 12/29/2016

Case dispatched to diplomatic pouch : 01/11/2017

Case dispatched from diplomatic mail service to NVC : 01/23/2017

Case arrived at NVC: 01/26/2017

NVC sent case to USCIS : 02/09/2017 (system update)

Case receive by USCIS (text & email notification): 03/07/2017


Reaffirm Petition Timeline for folks in GHANA.. Please update your information..Thank you!


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Ok so starting from the beginning-

You got your conditional GC in Feb 15. You moved out in May 15. You were on a legal visa when you married. (Im going to assume student? or was it a visitor?) You didnt give any other information. Im going to assume you filed for AOS in a reasonable amount of time after the marriage and it took the standard apx time of 9 months to receive the GC. So married in July 14? Filed for AOS July or Aug 14?

That would mean youve been married apx 1 year before moving out (yes I know you are still technically married) You should be able to file for divorce this coming May 16. And you moved out 3 months after receiving GC. Your GC expires in Feb 17.

Is that all accurate?

1. Taxes- as others have said, you can file MFJ or MFS. Since you are separated you need to talk with your spouse about whether you guys will file jointly or not. If you file jointly and there is a balance due according to the IRS you are both responsible. If theres a refund it will be written to both of you- and you would have to decide how to split it. If things are not good between the two of you- its a better idea to file separately. You also mentioned a 'foundation of lies' so honestly I would go with separate returns because there is no trust. You may not get as much of a refund on your own but filing joint puts you on the hook for whatevers submitted on the joint return. If hes dishonest and puts wrong info or back tracks and refuses to split the refund as agreed upon- well its not worth the headaches.

2. Open enrollment for 2016 health insurance ends January 31, 2016 on the healthcare.gov site (marketplace/obamacare) If you enroll by the 15th of the month, your coverage starts the first day of the next month. So get on it NOW>

However heres the big kicker- Married taxpayers are required to file a joint tax return in order to qualify for premium tax credits. People who use the “married filing separately” status are not eligible to receive premium tax credits.There is a special exception, however, for individuals who must file separately because of domestic abuse or spousal abandonment. I do not believe you mentioned anything about being a victim of abuse nor do you qualify as spousal abandonment (Spousal Abandonment-When an individual can’t locate their spouse after making a reasonable attempt to find them. Also known as desertion. If you’re a victim of spousal abandonment, you can select “unmarried” on your Marketplace application. This will allow you to qualify for premium tax credits and other savings based on your income.)

So filing MFS will cause you to have to pay full price for any plan. MFJ will allow you to get potential credits BUT you need proof of income from your spouse when you apply/after you apply. Please call the 800 number for the marketplace and speak to a rep to find out more details. You need to have coverage for 2016 or will pay a penalty on your taxes.

3. Is the lawyer charging 1900 for both the divorce and ROC? If so thats generally a low fee. Do they offer payment plans? Regardless as stated above- you can file both on your own. For the divorce follow the advice above about speaking with the clerk where you are going to file. The filing fees are generally 200$ or less. What complicates things is if the other side obtains an attny and you dont have one. If that happens you can contact pro-bono or low cost legal aide services to see if they can help you. You can do that anyway. Use google and see how far you get. If you need more help you would need to post your location (county and state) and typically the savvy internet users here can help you locate some places. Deciding on whether or not to use a lawyer for divorce is a personal decision. You have to think about how much you guys have in joint assets and debts. How you are comfortable dividing them. What you expect. If its nothing and very little then an attny is not really needed.

For ROC- because of the info above (separating 3 months after getting GC), well thats a bit of what we call a red flag. Do you have significant proof of the bonafides of the marriage? If you dont know what that means or arent sure- read through the ROC sub forum paying attention to threads that are tagged divorce and ROC. See what kind of evidence people list and how you stack up. To be honest the topic is very complex and with out additional info on your bonafides its pointless to just speculate.

As for is it worth it to stay here? Eh, again that is a personal choice. Many people choose to stay and many people choose to leave. It can be hard to be in a new place with different laws and programs that you know very little about. The good news is you are in the right place for help. Users here are very friendly and knowledgeable. The forums cover everything and anything about your life in America. Theres even a sub-section titled that where you can post non immigration related questions.

The only other thing I can offer is its great you are trying hard to make something for yourself. Would it be easier back 'home'? I dont know. Do you have a huge amount of family support back there? Is there job opportunities back there that surpass the ones here? For some reason you decided to stay and give it a go here. What was it? Some people are ashamed to return after a failed marriage. Not sure if that applies here. But there is no shame. You need to pick the best path for your life and only you can decide what that is.

And by the way- Welcome to VJ!

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didn't add any specific info due to paranoia :)

SO, Approx timeline:

Moved to USA with NATO-2 visa (through working father) AUG11

Dated ex.since JAN13

Married JUN14 in VA

1st JUL14 we moved to NC (wehre i still live)

Filed I-130 JUL14 (approved OCT14)

Filed I-485 NOV14 (approved FEB15)

Moved out MAY15.

My actual nato visa expires MAR16 (that's what's written in my Passport), but I think it expired the day my father ended his work here in AUG14 and returned home cause my Visa was tied to his work, so ai was in overstay due to not knowing I could have filed everything in one go. I did it all by myself so that was the one hiccup.

So my worry is ofcourse that the timeline looks like I got out immediately after I got my papers :( I do have plenty of evidence of it being a good faith marriege though. Also my sponsor is his father who is a good person that had nothing to do with him and his son not working out, and I have angered and disappointed him enough. I don't want to cause him any unnecessary stress - which is why the healthcare thing has been stressing me out. My husband did not abuse me - he just lied alot and neglected me. We don't really speak to eachother any more so.I don't know if he's good bad intentions through the divorce. I'd like to think he's hopefully just as excited to get this over with.

Thanks for explaining the tax thing. I'm sure I'll be filing seperetely, just because I feel like it's the right thing to do for both of us.

As for obamacare I thought it was a govt. type of assistance? My sponsor won't get in trouble if I get it?

And as for the lawyer I just realised it's $1900 just for him to get me through ROC after divorce.

Thank you for taking the time to explain things I honestly really, really, really appreciate this.

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Hmm well to start- Obamacare/marketplace at healthcare.gov is available to LPRs. Theres no immigration consequence nor is it something that is relevant to the aff of support (864). As an LPR you are generally barred from receiving whats loosely called 'welfare' for 5 years from the date your GC was issued. This means stuff you would go down to your local social services dept and apply for like food stamps, medicaid, cash assistance. You must be an LPR for 5 yrs (among other things) to qualify in most jurisdictions. In some areas they have social service programs that are funded at state level so there is no 5yr bar. I do not believe NC has anything like that- so first off you would not be able to apply right now.

After the 5yrs have past, you can apply. Any benefits you receive- the state has the right to collect back from the person or persons on your aff of support. This rarely happens. Just because they have the right to collect- doesnt mean they do. In history there has only been a handful of occasions where the gov sought back reimbursement from sponsors. It was found that they spent more money paying for collection efforts then they recouped. Occasionally you hear about them on the news proposing starting collections again or ways to improve the process- but Im not holding my breath.

So none of this is currently an issue for you. You can not get any benefits that will impact your sponsor now- and in the future...well that can be another conversation if you find yourself in need.

But again Obamacare-marketplace - no impact. The situation you are going to find though is since you will be filing Married filing Separately- you can not get any tax credits from Obamacare. You can go to-https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/ and towards the bottom of the page theres a bar that says- preview 2016 plans - see plans and prices. This is not applying, just previewing. You enter some basic info like your age and spouses age, income and dependents and zip code and you will see a list of plans and prices. In the prices they show it subtracts the estimated tax credit you may get. You will not be getting any so you have to look at where it says plan price before credits.

I did a basic search - both spouses age 30, income 20,000 (which may be low? You have to put your joint income) and the lowest plan was over 600$ a month with out credits. With credits it was 0. I just want you to be prepared and not have sticker shock..

Your other option for healthcare is getting it through an employer. Do you work? Is that an option? If your current job is part time with no benefits you may want to seek a new one with benefits.

For many that cant afford the monthly ins premium, they choose to pay the penalty at the end of the year and pay for healthcare expenses as they are needed. For 2016 its suppose to be $695 for each adult and $347.50 for each child, but no more than $2,085 per family or 2.5% of your family yearly taxable income


Re- attny costs: Do you know if the quoted cost includes the cost of the form you pay USCIS? That is currently 590$. (505 for the form and 85 for biometrics.) If its not included you need to add it in to total costs. / Its hard to say if its a good value or not-.Most users on here DIY and did not use attnys but around 2k seems about right.

Attnys can charge you a flat rate or an hourly rate. Typically the flat rate includes everything- however you need to read and understand the retainer. There are limitations that can increase the cost. For example your flat rate may include X amount of hours preparing the packet, mailing the packet, answering 1 RFE, and accompanying you to 1 interview. If its more complex they will ask for more money.

There are ways to reduce attny costs. Having paralegals do the minor grunt work (as they are paid less) will cost you less. Sometimes you can even prepare the packet yourself and bring it to the attny for review. You can pay for just a consultation for a review and the attny wont be your attny on record- or hire the attny at that point where the remaining work will be less so your cost is less. Sometimes people in divorce ROC situations choose to file themselves and then wait to see if they get an RFE or interview before hiring one.

For pro-bono or low cost you can start with this page-http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/nonprofit/legaldirectory/search?state=NC but theres no guarentee anyone will be willing to help you. Many of these programs only help domestic violence victims,juveniles,people with disabilities, criminal histories etc. It cant hurt to try though and to ask if they have knowledge of other places that can help you. I also believe you can try- http://www.lawhelpnc.org/find-legal-help . They can maybe help with both immigration and divorce.

Divorce can be quick and easy or long and painful. I dont honestly believe that you have no idea about his intentions during the divorce. You know him. Is he vengeful? Cheap? Spiteful? Was the break-up mutual or did you (from his POV) walk out on him? Do either of you own property or have assets? Did you already split all your belongings when you moved out? If so thats a good indication of how things are going to be. If he threw a hissy fit at you removing things from the joint home- well it shows he doesnt share well. If he was reasonable- well.. has anything changed since? Are you involved romantically with someone else? That can give people a change of heart when they find out their ex moved on. Is he involved with someone else? Would his family support a smooth divorce or encourage him to fight and be petty? Are there even things to fight and be petty about?? Forgive the phrase but how low are you willing to go to get things over with with out fighting?

As for ROC: NATO visas are rarely discussed on here. Someone else can chime in but I do believe you are correct it ended when Dad left- so Aug 14. That would give you about 3 months overstay but as you know that was forgiven when you AOSed.

It can still be relevant now when one looks at your timeline though. So in the 'con' category you have overstay. In the 'pro' category you have the fact that the 130 was filed when you were in status and you married while in status. Im inclined to believe the pro outweighs the con so it shouldnt be used against you as someone who may have been seeking status and got married for it.

You also have in the 'con' category as already referred to- the fact that you separated 3 months after the card was issued. Now there is no official amount of time one has to be married after receiving the GC to ROC with a divorce. Of course the sooner you separate the more suspicious it can look. But every case is evaluated on its own merits. You had a year and half relationship before marriage. Nothing suspicious there.

But this is where a good immigration attny can be helpful. You want to present a solid ROC case addressing potential concerns and outlining your proof in a manner that is most beneficial. Attnys know what specific phrases to use and what to highlight. Now Im not saying you cant do it yourself. You sure can. Many people have and have been approved. But no ones going to argue that using a professional (if able to use one) gives you an advantage. I can point out those who have had short marriages and got approved or those that divorced soon after getting the GC and got approved- but like I said each case is evaluated on its own merits- so it means nothing. There are people that separate right before ROC is due and are denied. It works both ways.

With out knowing the specifics of what you consider 'plenty of bonafide evidences' its hard to say how solid your case is. As I said review the ROC forums and see how you stack up.If you have nearly everything that anyones ever listed and the only issue is the timeframe of separation after the GC was received- then you can probably file on your own and be okay. Like I said if it gets complicated you can then seek an attny.

Best of luck to you.

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