Divorce is a stressful life event whenever it happens and no matter what precipitated the break up. When one of the partners of a marriage that is contemplating or completing a divorce is dealing also with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) because of a naturalization application, any issue that relates to a change in circumstances can have a major and sometimes devastating effect.

Since many applicants for citizenship can shorten the time period of five years to three if they are married to a US citizen for those three years it is crucial to know the consequences of divorce on the naturalization process. It goes without saying that the applicant must be in a true marriage, not one simply used for naturalization purposes. All questions about the relationship must be answered truthfully at every point.

If The Partner Has Passed The Naturalization Interview

When the married partner seeking citizenship has been interviewed by USCIS and has passed that process it may seem that citizenship is assured. Be aware, however, if the partner has not yet taken the Oath of Allegiance to the United States the naturalization is not complete.

The Oath Ceremony can take place as early as the same day as you passed the interview or it can be delayed for several months depending upon the district within which the person resides. The problem can occur if a divorce is finalized after the successful interview but before the Oath is taken.

In order to take the Oath a Form N-445 questionnaire must be filled out. The Form N-445 will ask:

Have you married, or been widowed, separated or divorced. If “Yes,” please bring documented proof of marriage, death, separation, or divorce.

If the answer to divorced is “yes,” chances are good the application will be rejected if you received your green card fewer than five years before, even if the applicant passed the interview and the divorce occurred after that point. Consequently couples who are considering marriage dissolution would be wise to wait until after the Oath Ceremony takes place.

Divorce After Naturalization Oath Ceremony

If a couple divorces after citizenship has been granted through a successful interview and completed Oath taking things should be straightforward. As long as the marriage was in place at the time of the Oath taking there should be no impediment to granting citizenship.

During divorce proceedings that follow the oath taking, however, all involved should be aware that although the citizenship has been granted, there are specific circumstances where a “denaturalization” can occur. One of the reasons a naturalized citizen can be stripped of citizenship is because of falsification or concealment of relevant facts.

When documentation of the reasons for the divorce are drafted or testimony taken, any assertions that the marriage was a sham can cause the USCIS to consider whether the original application falsified or concealed relevant facts. In the absence of any such testimony or sworn statements the marriage is considered terminated at the time of the filing of the final decree which will not interfere with any naturalization granted prior to that date.


If after naturalization the marriage which acted to shorten the wait time from five to three years is annulled, serious consequences could be visited on the newly naturalized spouse. An annulment declares that a marriage was null and void from its beginning indicating that the naturalization awarded was based on false pretences.