How to Get a Copy of a Divorce Decree?

When you petition for a green card through marriage, you have to validate your relationship. That includes proving any past marriages have been successfully dissolved. If you have been divorced, you will need to submit your green card application with a copy of your divorce decree.

If you have your original decree of divorce on hand, photocopy it and bring the original to your interview. However, if your original document has been lost, you must have it replaced. Learn how to obtain a copy of your divorce decree and what to do if it’s unavailable.

discarded wedding bands sit on a decree of divorce
Discarded wedding bands sit on a decree of divorce. You can obtain a copy of your divorce decree in the U.S. through a vital records office or another country’s issuing authority.

What Is a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree, also called a divorce certificate, is an official document that confirms your marriage has ended. A divorce decree can serve three purposes:

  • Identifying the spouses involved
  • Providing details about the end of the marriage
  • Determining alimony, division of property, and custody if applicable 

For the purpose of your green card application, a divorce decree will verify that your past marriage has been dissolved.

Who Needs a Copy of Their Divorce Decree?

When applying for a marriage green card, both spouses must meet eligibility requirements. If either the sponsor or the petitioner has been married before, they must provide proof that the past marriage has ended. 

A divorce decree will be required for each past marriage that ended in divorce. Your green card application must be accompanied by a photocopy or certified copy of your divorce decree.

Where to Get a Copy of Your Divorce Decree

Where you filed for divorce will affect how you obtain a copy of your divorce decree. If you filed in the United States, you should be able to request a copy of your divorce decree from the court that issued your original decree. Another option is to submit a request to the office of vital records in the state where you filed for divorce.

If you were divorced in another country, you will need to look up the issuing authority for civil documents by country on the U.S. Department of State’s website. Click on your country and expand the “Marriage, Divorce Certificates” tab. Review the fee and instructions for requesting a copy of your divorce decree.

If Your Divorce Decree Is in a Foreign Language

If your divorce decree is in a language other than English, you will need to translate it. Submit your green card application with a copy of your divorce decree and the certified English translation.

If Your Divorce Decree is Not Available

If you lose your divorce decree and cannot obtain a replacement, you can provide U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with alternative documents to prove your previous marriage has been dissolved.

Submit your green card application with a notarized affidavit detailing your divorce and why you cannot obtain a copy of your divorce decree. You should also include a government agency statement that explains why this document is not available.

If you cannot submit a government agency statement, you will instead need an additional affidavit from a parent or senior family member. Their letter should include:

  • Their relation to you
  • How well they know you
  • How they know you are divorced

What to Do if Your Past Marriage Did Not End in Divorce

You may still be eligible to apply for a green card through marriage if your last marriage didn’t end in divorce. Depending on your circumstances, documentation that establishes the end of your previous marriage could include:

  • A death certificate 
  • An annulment decree 
  • A divorce decree 

Similar to a divorce decree, you must provide a copy of your annulment decree or spouse’s death certificate with your green card application. Bring your original documents with you to your interview.

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