If you’ve ever been married before and seek a green card based on your current marriage, you’ll need to provide to the U.S. government a divorce decree (also known as a “divorce certificate“), a certificate of annulment, or a death certificate for each prior marriage. If you already have these documents, you can move on to the next step of the marriage green card process. Otherwise, this guide will show you how to get a copy of your divorce papers, as well as alternative options when those documents are not available.
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Who must submit their divorce papers?
For each prior marriage, both the sponsoring spouse (the U.S. citizen or current green card holder) and the spouse seeking a green card must provide a photocopy or certified copy (with the issuing office’s seal or stamp) of their final divorce decree. You must also bring the original document or certified copy to your green card interview.
What if I was previously married but wasn’t divorced from that spouse?
If a previous marriage ended by your spouse’s death or by annulment, you must submit a photocopy of your spouse’s death certificate or your certificate of annulment (see below for instructions on obtaining these documents). You must also bring the original or certified copy of these documents, whichever is applicable, to your green card interview.
What if my divorce papers are not written in English?
Divorce records (or other documented proof of a marriage’s legal termination) that are written in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.
Boundless can help you manage your divorce documents for your green card application. Learn more.
Where to Get a Divorce Decree
If you filed for divorce in the United States, you generally can obtain a divorce decree from the court that issued the document. Alternatively, you can request an official copy from the office of vital records in the state where your divorce was finalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website specifies the name and address of each vital records office, as well as the current fee for requesting the paperwork.
If you filed for divorce abroad, you may find information about the issuing authority in your home country — including its name, the current fee, and procedures for obtaining an official copy — on the U.S. Department of State’s website. (On the left-hand side of the webpage, you will need to select the first letter of your country’s name, select your country, and click on the “Marriage, Divorce Certificates” tab to view more details.)
Death certificates and annulment certificates may be obtained from the above sources, as well.
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If you can’t find your marriage certificate or get an official copy, you must submit both of the following documents instead:
- A notarized personal affidavit (written explanation) in which you describe the facts of your marriage and the reason you’re unable to obtain an official copy of your marriage certificate
- A certified statement from the appropriate government agency explaining why your marriage certificate is not available
If you cannot obtain a certified statement from a government agency, you must instead provide an additional notarized personal affidavit (written statement) from one of your parents who is living or a close relative who is older than you. In the affidavit, they must attest to having personal knowledge of your marriage and describe the following:
- Their relationship to you
- How well they know you
- How they know about the information they are swearing to
Boundless can help make sure you have all the right documents for your green card application if you’ve been married before. Learn more.
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