When you obtain a green card by marriage that is less than two years, you will obtain a conditional green card. However, in the future, to continue with your immigration proceedings, you will need to remove this condition. Here we explain everything you need to know to move forward from a conditional permanent residency to a condition-free residency.
A green card is a document that allows immigrants to live and work in the United States legally. Once you meet the necessary requirements to obtain it and qualify for one of the categories, you will be able to stay in the country for the years or time period indicated on your green card. In addition, you will not need a work permit or any other paperwork to work in the United States.
Remove your green card status obtained through marriage
There are many categories to qualify for a green card. The most common are when an immediate family member petitions for you, known as a family petition, or through work when an employer sponsors your application. Another way to obtain a green card is through asylum or refugee status, as a business investor, or even through the visa lottery.
You can also obtain your green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and you adjust your immigration status through that marriage.
We must clarify that all marriages must be real and authentic and cannot have the sole purpose of obtaining immigration status. This is because the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will verify the integrity of your marriage and conduct interviews with questions that probably only your partner will be able to answer to make sure it is real. Otherwise, if you do not pass the interview, your application will be rejected.
Marriages of less than two years
When you get your green card through marriage, there are two different situations, which are determined by these conditions:
- Two years or more of marriage: you will get a green card without condition for ten years.
- Less than two years of marriage: you will get a green card with a condition for two years.
In both cases, your children will also be able to apply for a green card, and they will receive it under the same conditions.
When you apply for your green card after several years of marriage or through other categories, such as a family petition or work visa, you will generally get a green card for a period of 10 years. That means your permanent resident status will be granted for ten years and without condition.
After those ten years, you will be able to renew it again, or if you qualify, you will be able to apply for citizenship and enjoy the benefits that this implies. You may even be able to do it earlier if you have been married for more than three years.
If you got married and applied for your green card before being married for two years, you will be granted your green card for two years. This is called conditional or conditional permanent residency.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will grant you a conditional green card or conditional permanent residency, which cannot be renewed after the two-year term. Still, you will be able to remove the condition and obtain a permanent residence.
Before the two years of your green card expire, you will be able to demonstrate to USCIS that your marriage has exceeded those two years and that the condition can be removed.
Children who apply with you will also obtain a conditional permanent residence and will be able to remove conditions jointly with you if the petition was filed and obtained together or within 90 days of yours.
Once the condition is removed (not before), they will be able to apply for permanent residence and obtain a green card for ten years.
The removal of status is the process that is done through the Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residency. This form is filed jointly with your spouse and allows you to remove the condition of your permanent residence and then apply for a green card for ten years, without requirement, or even sooner.
You must file the form before your two-year permanent residency expires. You can apply exactly 90 days before your conditional permanent residency expires. Please do not wait until the deadline; however, you can’t file it before 90 days either because it will be rejected by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If your children applied with you for conditional residency or obtained it within 90 days of you obtaining yours, they will be able to remove conditions jointly on the same form.
You should not apply for a conditional permanent residency renewal since the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reject it. If the two-year term has passed, you could be placed in deportation proceedings, and your children or family members who have obtained it conditionally with you as well.
If your green card expires while your application is being resolved, you will be issued a receipt indicating that you have a pending application and are waiting for a response; with this document, you can be at peace. But suppose you have a trip abroad and are worried about not having your green card to enter the United States again. In that case, you should travel with your passport from your country of origin. In addition, you can take the receipt of your application and ask for an appointment with immigration for an info pass before your trip. In that appointment, they will give you a stamp that will prove that you are extending your residency but still do not have the document to show it at the moment of your return to the United States.
If you have missed the expiration date of your green card, you must demonstrate sufficient grounds for USCIS to consider your application after the expiration date and resolve your situation. They may consider valid situations where there was a serious health problem for you or a family member under your care, an emergency, or an extreme case that prevented you from filing your application on time, among others. You will have to provide proof of all of this and have the right advice from an immigration lawyer who can help you.
In the best-case scenario, this is as far as the process will go, you will obtain the green card for ten years, and you will continue to renew it or apply for U.S. citizenship.
Exceptions: removing your status without your spouse
We know that a lot can happen within marriage in a two-year period. Therefore, the law has also provided several exceptions to the rule, which will allow you to remove the status without having to file the form jointly with your spouse; in other words, without signatures from both of you.
You will be able to file the form without your spouse if you were married in good faith and:
- Your spouse is deceased.
- Your marriage is dissolved by annulment.
- A U.S. citizen or permanent resident abused you.
- The child of the beneficiary spouse is suffering extreme cruelty from the U.S. citizen or resident spouse.
- Your deportation or removal will cause extreme hardship.
Note that all of these exceptions will require proof of the situations that occurred and good faith during and after the marriage. If it is ever proven that it was a marriage to obtain papers, everything will be annulled, and you will lose any chance to apply.
In addition, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may ask you to attend an interview to verify the waiver or exception and remove your conditions. They will send you a notice to do so.
This application will need the advice of the best immigration attorney, who can take care of every detail and guide you. Once the conditions are removed, you will be able to file the I-90 form to apply for permanent residency. Once you obtain it, without conditions, you will be on your way to U.S. citizenship.
Please note that not all immigration options allow you the opportunity to opt for U.S. citizenship, but after your green card and if you meet the requirements, you will have the option to become a U.S. citizen.
Following the correct process in the removal of condition procedure is very important. Remember that obtaining your green card, even with conditions, is already an important step, and you should invest time, advice, present proof, and you do not want to lose it due to lack of knowledge.