Receiving a conditional green card through marriage is a great thing. Having a two-year conditional green card is an excellent way to prepare for longer resident options or even full U.S. citizenship. However, conditional green cards do come with conditions. Learn more about conditional green cards, their conditions, and how to get conditions removed.
What Is a Conditional Green Card?
A conditional green card is a temporary green card that is granted to a spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has been married for less than two years at the time of their application for a green card. The conditional green card is valid for two years and requires the holder to file a petition to remove the conditions on their residency within 90 days before the expiration of the card. This petition must include evidence that the marriage is genuine and not solely for immigration purposes. Once the conditions are removed, the conditional resident becomes a permanent resident and receives a permanent green card.
Two-year conditional green cards cannot be renewed, because they act as a probation period, giving you the full rights of U.S. citizen, but only for a short amount of time.
Who Receives Conditional Green Cards?
The conditional green card emphasizes the word “conditional” and is given to newly married couples & financial investors in the U.S. They were made to prevent marriage fraud.
All those who have been married for less than two years will receive a conditional green card. As a conditional permanent resident of the U.S., you will need to prove that you did not get married to evade any U.S. immigration laws.
When to Apply to Remove Conditions on a Marriage Green Card
When can you file for the removal of conditions on your green card? The expiration date of conditional green cards is two years. 90 days before the conditional resident green card expires, you can file Form I-751. It’s vital that you file this form within 90 days before expiration.
This form is considered a joint petition that spouses will need to complete together. Typically, the form acts as proof of a solid marriage. You will need to include evidence that your marriage is real, which includes:
- Any photos of you and your spouse
- Financial join documentation
- Children that were had together
- Evidence of a shared home
All of this must be included in your application, along with a filing fee, and a biometrics fee. The total cost of filing this form comes to about $680. Depending on the USCIS office, you and your spouse may need to attend an interview.
Waiver of Joint Petition Requirement
A waiver of joint petition is only available for those who entered a marriage in good faith but have since then legally separated from their partner and cannot file Form I-751. If you can obtain a waiver, you must prove that your spouse cannot fill out the form with you.
From here you can prove that the marriage was terminated but did, in fact, start in good faith. You will need to supply proof that the marriage was terminated within the given timeframe.
There are a few requirements that one must uphold if they are looking to obtain this waiver:
- As a conditional resident, being removed from the U.S. would be a serious hardship
- You entered into the marriage with good faith, but both parties terminated the marriage for various reasons apart from the death of a spouse.
- You were the victim of a bad marriage, even if you entered into the arrangement in good faith.
How to Apply for Removal of Conditions On a Marriage Green Card
The U.S. green card removal of conditions can be done following a few steps.
When filing Form I-751, you must keep in mind a few things. The timeframe is the first thing that you must follow when applying for the removal of conditions for a green card. You are only allowed to file this form in the 90-day window leading up to your expiration date of the conditional green card.
You must fill out the form completely and truthfully within the time frame and pay the necessary fees. The filing fee for this form totals to about $680 and will need to be paid to USCIS. So, what are the requirements to remove your conditional resident status and obtain a longer green card?
In most cases, you will need to include the following in your application:
- A marriage certificate
- Birth certificates of any children born within the marriage
- A lease or home mortgage showing joint ownership of a home
- Any financial records that show collective responsibility for assets, which can include bank cards, joint utility bills, or joint credit card statements
- A solid number of photographs of you and your spouse together with family, friends, etc
- Affidavits from two people who have knowledge of the legitimacy of your marriage
What Happens After Applying to Remove Conditions on a Green Card?
Once the form is filed, a few things can happen, which we will explain below.
First, Form I-751 will need to be properly filled out and sent to USCIS. USCIS will then check your form for completeness. If you and your spouse have not filled the form out correctly, it will be automatically denied.
If you have filled it out properly, USCIS will determine if they need additional information or not. If this seems to be the case, they will generally request evidence, which means you will need to send in anything they ask for in order to deem your marriage legitimate.
Based on your petition, you may be asked to attend a conditional green card removal interview at one of their local offices. At these interviews, you will need to take your fingerprints, get photographs taken, and pass a background and security check.
You will be mandated to pay the required fees. Additionally, if there are any children that you and your spouse have had together, you will not need to file an I-751 for the child separately, just required to pay an additional $85 for each kid. These fees are nonrefundable, and if your application gets denied, you won’t be able to get the money back.
There are a few reasons as to why your Form I-751 could be denied. Some of these reasons are:
- You have submitted your form too late
- There is not enough information or evidence that your marriage is lawful
- There are issues in your application that have resulted in a broken marriage
If you do receive a case denial, you will be able to collect a letter stating why you were denied. You will get an NTA slip with the letter, which is a notice to appeal in an immigration court from removal proceedings.
Unfortunately, as an immigrant, you will not be able to appeal the final decision. However, you will get a final chance to speak with the courts when you attend the NTA. From here, you can request that a higher court system looks at your case and considers granting you a permanent residency status.
Processing Time to Remove Conditions on Green Card
Typically, when you file to remove conditions on your green card, the I-751 conditional green card removal processing time will take 12 to 18 months.
What Happens if You Don’t Remove the Conditions?
If you and your spouse don’t file Form I-751 during the final 90 days, you will lose your status. This loss of status will happen the day your conditional green card expires.
Most likely, you will be placed in a deportation proceeding if you don’t leave before your card expires. If you overstay at all, you may be banned from the U.S. for a period of three to 10 years.
Is It Necessary to Jointly File for Removal of Conditions?
There may be times where it’s necessary to file for a joint removal of conditions on your green card. These situations are outlined below.
Apply to Remove Conditions if Divorced
When you have a divorce during your two year conditional green card period, you will need to work on removing conditions on your green card if you wish to stay in the country. If you divorce after receiving your conditional green card, you will need to present a valid copy of the divorce certificate when attempting to remove the conditions.
However, along with this, you need to prove that the marriage did in fact start out in good faith. Additionally, you do not need to change your green card status after marriage, as long as you have a regular conditional green card.
Apply to Remove Conditions if Your Spouse Died
If your spouse has passed away after marriage, you will need to obtain a copy of the death certificate along with any needed evidence to prove that you had a good marriage. From there, you are then able to file Form I-751 on your own.
Apply to Remove Conditions if Abused or Battered During Marriage
Unfortunately, abuse does happen in marriages, and if you fall victim to this, there are a few things you can do. If you are filing your I-751 form due to abuse in a marriage, you must submit these documents along with your waiver:
- Evidence of the abuse (such as police reports, medical bills, photographs of any injuries)
- Your divorce certificate
Apply to Remove Conditions if You Will Face Extreme Hardship if Residency Is Terminated
If the removal of your status will result in severe hardship, you must show evidence of this plea. Extreme hardship must only relate to factors that you have experienced within the two years of becoming a conditional resident.
What to Do if Your Conditional Green Card Is Lost
In order to replace a lost, stolen, or damaged conditional green card, you must fill out Form I-90, which is known as the application to replace permanent resident cards. Along with this form, you must show supporting documents that give evidence of your lost green card, pay the required fee, and submit anything that is asked of you, to USCIS.
However, you are not able to get your conditional green card from marriage replaced if it is close to expiring. This form only works if you will have this status for a few months.
Ready To Begin the Process?
When it comes to conditional green cards, the application process is tricky, and there are various exceptions to the rule. It’s normal to have countless questions about how it works and what they are used for. If this is the case, speaking to experienced immigration service providers such as ImmigrationDirect will be beneficial.