If you have been married for less than 2 years at the time you are approved for a green card, then you will receive a conditional green card, which is valid for 2 years. You and your spouse must apply to remove the conditional nature of your green card within 90 days (3 months) of the two year expiration date. By doing this you are essentially requesting that the conditional green card be converted to a 10 year green card. In applying to remove the conditional nature of the green card, the validity of your marriage will be re-examined. It is highly important to discuss your case with your immigration lawyer prior to applying to remove the conditional nature of your green card, as certain factors can complicate your case.
What if I don’t apply to remove the conditions of my green card before the two year anniversary?
If you don’t apply to convert your conditional green card to a 10 year green card before the end of your two year anniversary, then you will risk being put in removal proceedings. Furthermore, you will not be able to travel internationally and you may be deemed to have abandoned your status as a permanent resident. It is HIGHLY important for you to apply to convert the conditional green card to a 10 year green card before the two year anniversary of your status as a permanent resident. REMEMBER that the filing window opens 90 days prior to your two year anniversary and it ends on the 2 year anniversary.
How is a conditional green card different than a 10 year green card?
An individual who has a conditional green card is a permanent resident and has the same right and responsibilities as an individual with a 10 year green card. The only difference is that an individual with a conditional green card is required to apply to remove the conditions and convert the conditional green card to a 10 year green card within 90 days of their two year anniversary of being a permanent resident.
What is the purpose of the conditional green card?
The conditional green card was introduced by USCIS to combat marriage fraud. By only providing a conditional green card valid for a two year period, USCIS is given another opportunity to evaluate the validity of your marriage. If it is determined after applying to remove the conditions of your green card that your marriage was entered into lawfully, your conditional green card will be converted into a 10 year green card.
Who has to submit the application to remove conditions? Me, my spouse, or both of us?
A petition to remove conditions is a joint petition, meaning that both you and your spouse will sign the petition.
Aside from the petition, what else needs to be submitted?
Any documentation that establishes that the marriage is valid, such as:
- joint ownership of property
- joint lease
- utility bills
- joint bank accounts and/or credit card accounts
- birth certificates of any children
- other joint documents
- affidavits from third parties
- any other relevant evidence
What if we are divorced when it is time to submit the petition to remove conditions?
If you are divorced at the time you are supposed to file your petition to convert your conditional green card to a 10 year green card, you will have to request a waiver of the joint filing requirement on the petition. Anytime there is a divorce during the 2-year period and a waiver petition is being filed, there will be increased sensitivity in connection with the petition. A divorce during the two year period will likely bring concerns that the marriage was not entered into for the right reasons. While a waiver petition is more difficult and sensitive than a jointly filed petition, it is still possible to follow through and obtain a 10 year green card. We have successfully represented many clients on waiver cases.
Are there other waiver categories?
Yes, aside from a waiver for divorce, there are two other waivers as follows:
- Extreme hardship to the foreign national or a U.S. citizen family member or legal permanent resident if the foreign individual is deported. Different scenarios may qualify as extreme hardship.
- Extreme cruelty if during the marriage the foreign individual or his/her child was battered by or was the subject of extreme cruelty perpetrated by his or her spouse. The couple does not need to be divorced to request this waiver. Cruelty could include physical, emotional or financial abuse.
Note that you can apply for a waiver of the joint filing requirement under more than one category.
Will there be an interview?
When a petition is jointly filed, there will likely not be an interview so long as the petition is properly prepared. If the petition is not properly prepared or insufficient evidence is provided, the chances of having an interview are much higher. Obviously, it is desired to avoid an interview. If you are filing the petition and requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement, such as in an instance where there is a divorce, the likelihood of an interview is much higher. It is important for you to be thoroughly prepared for a potential interview.
Yikes, I forgot to file my petition to remove the conditions of my green card by the 2 year anniversary!
Assuming you have not been put in removal proceedings, not all is lost if you have failed to file your petition by your two year anniversary of being approved for a conditional green card. You can file your petition late (days, months, years), but you must include a sufficient explanation as to why you did not file the petition on time.
What is the filing fee?
The filing fee for the petition, whether filing jointly or requesting a waiver, is $680, including the biometrics fee. This is much less than the green card application fees submitted the first time around.