While most green cards are issued for a period of 10 years, some are only issued for two. Conditional green cards are issued to certain residents who got their green card through marriage. Before your conditional green card expires, you will need to file Form I-751 to remove conditions on your residence.
What Is a Conditional Green Card?
A conditional green card is a two-year, temporary green card issued in some marriage-based cases. Your green card is conditional if you were married for less than two years when you either arrived in the U.S. on an immigrant visa or were approved for a green card through adjustment of status.
Why? Essentially, it’s because immigration wants to make sure that your marriage is still legitimate and that you didn’t enter into the marriage simply to get a green card. If after two years the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines that your marriage is legitimate, then you will receive a non-conditional, 10-year green card.
Form I-751 Filing Tips
Before your conditional green card expires, you’ll want to file Form I-751. Here are some tips to help you file successfully.
Submit More Evidence than Your Initial Green Card Application
Since you’ve been married an extra two years, you’ll want to submit more evidence than you did with your initial green card application. If you had kids during that time, you'll want to take birth certificates. Definitely show them the joint taxes you've been filing. If you bought a house or are renting a new apartment, bring your mortgage documents or your lease. Anything you've been doing jointly, you'll want to prove.
File on Time, within the 90-Day Window
You're going to want to file within the 90-day window before your conditional green card expires. If you try to file before that, the case will be rejected and sent back to you. If you file too late, you are no longer permitted to use your green card for work purposes or travel. There is also a good chance that the USCIS will refer your case to Immigration Court.
If you did not file on time and have not yet been issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) in immigration court, I highly recommend that you file as soon as possible! Doing so may prevent your case from being decided before an Immigration Judge.
Exceptions to Form I-751: Divorce, Separation and Death
I get a lot of questions from individuals who married out of love but by the time the conditional resident had to apply to lift conditions on their residency, the couple for one reason or another had separated. It is crucial to know that there are ways to apply to lift conditions on residency, permitting you to keep your residency, even if you are no longer with your U.S. citizen spouse. If you apply to lift conditions alone, then you are filing for what is called a “waiver”.
You may be eligible to file a waiver of the joint filing requirement if your spouse is deceased, if you divorce, or if you were battered or suffered extreme hardship at the hands of your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.
If you are a conditional resident who for some reason can no longer satisfy the requirement of joint filing with their U.S. citizen spouse, I recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney about your particular matter to make sure that your case is handled correctly.
Immigration Help: Removing Conditions on Residence
If you have any questions about Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.
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Sharon is the best lawyer I've had the pleasure to work with. She was very professional, but also offered emotional support during sometimes tough episodes and harsh deadlines. Indeed, I would definitely recommend her. Thanks Sharon! Mallory, the kiddos and I appreciate all your hard work!