What is Conditional Permanent Residency?
All foreign nationals who were married less than two years at the time they were granted permanent residence status (i.e., a green card) obtain what is known as conditional permanent residency status. The same applies to their derivative children.
This conditional status is virtually the same as an unconditional permanent residence status except that the conditional immigration status expires two years from the date it was granted. Accordingly, green cards issued in such cases will reflect an expiation date two years from the date it was issued.
Why does USCIS grant conditional permanent residency status?
In order to prevent marriage fraud, Congress enacted laws that effectively treat all marriage based applicants for permanent residency as suspect where the underlying marriage is less than two years at the time of approval and admission.
How do I remove the conditions to my green card?
To remove this conditional permanent residency status you will need to file a petition using Form I-751 to have the condition removed within 90 days prior to the two year anniversary of being granted conditional status. While USCIS will typically mail you a reminder, it is the your responsibly alone to timely file the petition. We suggest that you mark your calendar with a reminder approximately 20 months from the date your conditional green card status was issued.
What happens if I forget to file within the 90 day filing period?
Failure to timely and properly petitioning to remove the condition may lead to your removal (deportation) from the United States. USCIS may accept a late I-751 petition may but you will need to demonstrate good cause and extenuating circumstances for filing late. The acceptance of a late I-751 petition is discretionary and may be denied. Timely filing to remove your conditional permanent residency status is extremely important
Is filing an I-751 all that is required of me?
No, in addition to Form I-751 you will also need to submit sufficient supporting documents that would tend to demonstrate the validity of your ongoing marriage.
Must my U.S. citizen spouse file and sign the petition with me?
Yes, your spouse must sign the I-751 petition with you. But, there are a few exceptions:
- Good Faith Marriage Exception – If you have divorced prior to the two-year anniversary of obtaining conditional permanent residency, you may request a good faith marriage waiver by selecting the appropriate box on Form I-751. Petitioners seeking this waiver may file at anytime, before or even after the two year anniversary of admission.
- Battered Spouse / Child Exception – If you are a battered spouse or child, you may also self petition to remove the conditional permanent residency to your green card.
- Extreme Hardship Exception – If you can demonstrate that you, your child or even a subsequent spouse would face an extreme hardship, you may self portion to have the conditions removed.
Do I need an attorney to assist me in removing conditional permanent residency?
Based on our experience we believe that it is highly advisable to have a qualified immigration attorney assist you with this important stage in the immigration process. USCIS takes its role in eliminating marriage fraud seriously. Even where marriages are bona fide, improperly filed petitions to remove conditional permanent residency status or weak applications may lead to delays, denials and ultimately deportation.