Conditional residency is a temporary form of legal status granted to those who’ve obtained their residency through marriage. It’s important to understand that this status isn’t permanent and comes with unique challenges and requirements for condition removal.
If you and your spouse have been married for less than two years when your green card is approved, your green card will only be valid for two years. After this, you will need to apply for Removal of Conditions to obtain a 10-year green card, which grants you permanent residency in the United States.
Removing conditions on your residency can be complex and daunting, but don’t worry – we have you covered. This article will help illuminate the eligibility criteria needed for removing these conditions, the necessary documentation you’ll need to gather, and guide you through each step of the procedure itself.
What is a Conditional Green Card?
A conditional green card or conditional residency is usually granted for two years and comes with certain residency rights, including working in the U.S., traveling abroad and reentering the country, attending public schools and colleges, accessing public benefits, and protections under federal laws.
However, it’s crucial to note that these rights come with specific obligations tied to maintaining your legal presence in the country, including proving the authenticity of your marriage.
To remove these conditions and remain a permanent resident of the U.S., you must apply within 90 days prior to your two-year anniversary.
Failing to do so can lead directly to termination of your conditional resident status and removal proceedings against you.
Eligibility Criteria for Removing Conditions
If you wish to remove conditions on your residence, you must meet eligibility criteria set by U.S. immigration laws.
You may file jointly with your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse to remove conditions on your conditional green card, if:
- You are still married to the same U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident after two years.
- You file your I-751 petition jointly within 90 prior to the two-year anniversary of your green card.
You may file independently to remove conditions if:
- Your lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen spouse is deceased, and you entered into the marriage in good faith.
- You married in good faith, but the marriage ended in divorce or annulment.
- You married in good faith, but you were subject to extreme cruelty by your spouse.
- Terminating your conditional status and removing you from the U.S. would cause extreme hardship.
You can file at any time appropriate to your situation (you do not need to wait for the 90-day window).
*If you are a conditional resident spouse, you may include your conditional resident child in your petition, or they may need to file on their own.
Immigration law is complex, so it’s always advisable to consult an attorney who understands these processes and can guide you accordingly.
You need many documents when applying for the removal of conditions on residence.
- A copy of your permanent resident card (Green Card), front and back.
- Copies of evidence proving that you’re still married (if applicable) and that your marriage is (or was) genuine, such as birth certificates of children born during the marriage, joint bank account statements, shared leases, or mortgage contracts.
- If you’re a widow/er who got conditional status based on marriage, you must provide a copy of the death certificate.
- In cases where the divorce occurred before the two-year period ended, you must provide a copy of the final divorce decree.
Errors or missing documentation can lead to a denial of an otherwise legitimate application. To avoid this, it is highly recommended to work with an experienced immigration attorney.
How to Apply for Removal of Conditions
To remove conditions from a marriage-based green card, begin by filing Form I-751. You must submit this petition during the 90-day window before your two-year conditional period ends. This form will need to be completed by both you and your spouse and should include updated documentation. If you are filing without your spouse, then you will request a “waiver” of the joint filing requirement.
The USCIS will impose a fee for processing these petitions – currently $595 for Form I-751 and $85 for the biometrics fee, for a total of $680. After submitting your petition, USCIS may either schedule or waive the interview depending on their assessment of the sufficiency of the information you provided.
That’s why it’s crucial to consider working with an immigration lawyer to ensure your application is well-prepared and meets USCIS requirements.
Potential Challenges and How to Address Them
When applying for removal of conditions, you may face legal obstacles or experience delays that can be frustrating and challenging.
- If you cannot provide sufficient proof of a bona fide marriage, consider expanding your search for evidence beyond traditional documents.
- If you file the petition late without good reason, it can result in denial.
- If your marriage ends due to divorce or death before you’ve removed conditions on residency, or you’ve experienced extreme cruelty in your marriage, it’s vital to consult with an immigration attorney who can guide you through obtaining a waiver.
- USCIS processing times fluctuate greatly; keep yourself informed about current trends and adjust expectations accordingly.
- If USCIS suspects your marriage is fraudulent, you may spend more time and money trying to convince them otherwise.
To navigate these potential pitfalls successfully, lean on professional advice and ensure that every action taken contributes toward building a robust case in favor of removing conditions from your residency status.
Navigating the Path to Successful Condition Removal and Permanent Residency
Immigration involves complex legal procedures and regulations, so having a seasoned immigration lawyer by your side can guide you through each stage smoothly. They can help ensure you meet all eligibility criteria for condition removal, understand every legal implication involved, and maximize your chances of success.
Remember, preparation is paramount when it comes to dealing with immigration laws. You must meticulously gather all necessary documents required for the removal of conditions application process. This includes proof of a bona fide marriage if you gained conditional status through a marital relationship. Understand that any mistakes or discrepancies in these documents could lead to severe legal implications such as delays in processing, denials, or removal.
In essence, being thorough with paperwork, seeking professional assistance, and understanding the legal implications will help pave your path toward successful condition removal and, ultimately, permanent residency. Contact the Law of Lina Baroudi today for a consultation.