The U.S. immigration system tends to be complicated and overwhelming. One of the many types of immigration statuses you may come across is conditional permanent status, which is given to those who are newly married to U.S. citizens. When it’s time to update your immigration status, an immigration lawyer that understands how removal of conditions works can help you get through the process.
Conditional permanent residence is an immigration status granted to immigrants who have been married to U.S. citizens for less than two years. Children of these immigrants usually have conditional status as well. If you have conditional status, your green card will be valid for two years instead of the usual ten years. The two-year period starts when you either enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa or have your status adjusted. Other than the time limit, conditional permanent residents have the same rights to live and work in the U.S. and to apply for citizenship in the future that other permanent residents do. Conditional status can also be granted to entrepreneurs who received investment-based green cards, but this page will focus on marriage-based conditional green cards.
The purpose of conditional status is to prevent fraud. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wants to prevent people from gaining permanent residency who have entered a marriage only for immigration purposes. Since this is more likely to be the case for newer marriages, the two-year conditional period gives immigration authorities time to confirm that the marriage is valid.
A conditional green card can’t be renewed, so the holder will need to have the conditions removed to stay in the U.S. Removing the conditions means proving that your marriage is ongoing and valid so that you can switch to regular permanent resident status. You’ll do this by filing Form I-751: Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. If you’re still married, you’ll file jointly with your spouse. In most cases, your children with conditional status will be listed on their parent’s form as well. Form I-751 asks for biographic information as well as proof that your marriage was established in good faith. This can include financial records showing joint mortgages, bills, and bank accounts; affidavits sworn by people who know you and can attest to your relationship; birth certificates for any children you have together; and any other documentation you may have.
Permanent residents with conditional status who are within 90 days of the expiration date of their conditional green card can apply for the removal of conditions. It’s important to know that conditional green cards cannot be renewed, so if you do not have your conditions removed, you’ll lose your permanent residency. For a successful petition, you’ll need to prove that your marriage was entered in good faith and not for immigration purposes. If you are no longer married, whether because of the death of your spouse, divorce, or abuse, you may still be able to qualify for permanent residency if you can prove that your marriage was legitimate and not related to your immigration status. In addition, you might be eligible for removal of conditions if you can prove that deportation would cause you extreme hardship.
After you file your petition, you’ll need to schedule a biometrics appointment, and you may be asked to provide additional evidence of your relationship. You may also be asked to schedule an interview to verify that your marriage is legitimate. Evidence and interviews will naturally add more time to the process. In general, you can expect to receive your permanent green card between a year and a year and a half after filing your petition.
While you can file your petition to remove conditions yourself, an immigration attorney can help you avoid mistakes that might hurt your application. If you submit professionally completed, thorough paperwork, you’re less likely to be asked for additional documents or called for an interview.
Immigration applications and processes are complicated, and any mistakes can delay the removal of conditions or cause your application for permanent residence to be denied entirely. Working with an experienced removal of conditions lawyer can ensure that your petition contains all the required information and evidence so you have the greatest chance of success. An I-751 lawyer’s guidance can also help you avoid an uncomfortable interview and delayed processing of your petition while USCIS requests more information from you.
To learn more about how a removal of conditions attorney can help your family, reach out today for a free consultation.
Missing the 90-day deadline to file Form I-751 will result in the following:
During removal proceedings, you will have the opportunity to request that the presiding immigration judge review your denial. If the immigration judge does not overturn the denial and orders deportation, you will have another opportunity to appeal the judge’s decision by filing Form EOIR-26: Notice of Appeal from a Decision of an Immigration Judge.
USCIS provides a fee calculator on its website. Your fee will increase with each dependent.