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How Do I Get My Permanent Green Card if My Spouse Refuses to Help Me?


A question that I often get asked is, how can I get my green card if my spouse refuses to help me? Typically these clients already have a temporary green card, which is good for two years. However, the goal is to remove the conditions on your two-year green card and receive a 10-year or permanent resident green card.

It is important to work with an experienced immigration attorney that has worked to remove conditions on two-year green cards for a variety of reasons that we will discuss in this article. Our immigration law firm works with clients in all 50 States.

Watch the video: How do I get my permanent green card if my spouse refuses to help me? Or read immigration attorney Ifeoma Odunlami’s discussion overview and learn more below.

Suppose you are not familiar with two-year and ten-year green cards. Here are the differences.

What is a two-year green card?
A two-year green card is a green card that is valid for two years. The actual name is a two-year conditional green card. Some refer to this type of green card as a temporary green card. A two-year green card is issued when you have residency through a marriage that is less than two years old. From the issue date, you will have two years to remove the condition on your green card and apply for a ten-year permanent resident green card. You must apply for a ten-year permanent green card 90 days before your two-year green card expires.

What is a ten-year green card?

A ten-year green card is issued for anyone who has gained residency through an employer or your spouse (been married longer than two years, parent, or relative has been issued a green card. A ten-year permanent resident green card is good for ten years. You will need to reapply for your ten-year green card every ten years.

If you are not sure if you have a two-year or ten-year green card, you can look at your green card, and it will tell you which one you currently have.

A common, costly mistake is when the temporary green card expires, an I-90 is filed to renew, which is incorrect. When your temporary green card expires, you are supposed to remove the condition. However, you only renew a permanent (10-year) green card. When you don’t remove the conditions on time and your green card expires, USCIS can issue a notice to appear. This means going to Immigration Court and facing deportation proceedings. So it’s essential to remove your conditions before your temporary green card expires to avoid that.


Steps to getting a 10-year permanent resident green card

If you are filing along with your spouse to get your 10-year permanent resident green card, these are the steps and requirements that you will want to follow;

  • File jointly with your spouse. Fully complete, sign, and submit form I-751.

  • Submit evidence to prove that your marriage is a “bone fide marriage,” a marriage of good faith, or a marriage of intent. (You intend to have a life together.)

  • Lease agreement or mortgage

  • Affidavit letters from the landlord, friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, etc.

  • Financials, bank, and tax statements

  • Utility bills

  • Health insurance

  • Photo of live moments

Please note that not everyone will have the same evidence; however, your totality determines whether your evidence is convincing.

When you submit sparse documents, it just makes it more difficult for you. You don’t want USCIS to have a preconceived idea when they look at your application and evidence. If you don’t have the needed evidence, make sure you have documents or an affidavit explaining why something is missing or unavailable.

So, can I still get my permanent green card if my spouse refuses to help me?

There are many reasons why you might have to remove the conditions of your temporary green and get your permanent green card alone. Scenarios include;

  • Unhappy in marriage and looking to get divorced

  • Abuse in the relationship

  • Your spouse has died

  • Extreme Hardship if you went back to your country

The critical thing to know is that you can still get your permanent green card.

My spouse is abusive, and I want to leave our marriage. Can I still get my green card?


The law is adamant about ensuring that people are safe if they’re in marital relationships or any relationships and that there is a waiver exemption for people who already have their temporary green card. This waiver is a waiver of extreme, cruel, or physical abuse.

This extreme cruelty waiver is similar to VAWA, but the only difference is that with VAWA, you never had a temporary green card. If you use the extreme cruelty waiver, you still have to prove that you were in a “bona-fide marriage.” It’s also important that you are prepared to answer questions about your extreme cruelty or abuse, and you may have to write a declaration discussing your story. Discussing your abuse with your immigration attorney is incredibly beneficial so that you are prepared to answer questions. Your attorney can also help you with your declaration. However, you do not have to have a police report or medical report to prove your abuse.

Can I get my green card if I am divorcing my spouse and they will not help me?

 Yes, you can. You will have to file what is called a divorce waiver. However, the divorce waiver is only effective if you’re divorced, so if you go for your I-751 interview and the divorce hasn’t been finalized, and you do not have your divorce decree. You are not going to get the conditions on your green card removed. If you plan on filing using the divorce waiver, you must still prove that you had a bona fide marriage.

What happens if my spouse dies? Can I still get my green permanent resident card?

Yes, you can if you already have a two-year green card. However, you still need to show that you were in a good faith marriage.

What happens if my husband won’t help me and I can’t return to my home country?

If this is the case, you can file an extreme hardship waiver if you can prove that you can not return to your home country based on what conditions are going on in your home country. For example, going back to your home country would cause extreme hardship.

What happens if I give false information regarding my marriage?

Lying or exaggerating to prove your marriage is a “bona-fide marriage” is never good. The USCIS is trained to determine if you are lying or trying to hide something about your marriage. If you do this and USCIS deems your marriage as a fraud, you will receive a 204c; that means you can never get a green card.

If you are trying to get your green card and your spouse is refusing to help you, you have additional questions, or are looking for immigration services, please contact the Odunlami Law Firm at 973-993-1900 or email us at

We can help you will your immigration needs.

Areas of Immigration Law:

  • Naturalization (Citizenship) Application

  • Immigrant Relative Petitions

  • Fiancé Visa Applications

  • Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing

  • Criminal Consequences and Deportation Defense

  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Application

  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

  • Green Card Renewals

  • Temporary Work Visas

  • Temporary Protected Status

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

  • Waivers


Schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney and get your case started today.
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