Conditional Permanent Residence

Many people who are not U.S. citizens apply for their green card based on their marriage to a U.S. citizen. What many people fail to realize is that the green card they receive then is a temporary green card and they must file a petition for a permanent green card two years later. This is true whether you are still married to that person, divorced, or remarried.

WHY?

Every marriage-based green card application is looked at closely by immigration authorities to ensure that it is not a fraudulent marriage entered into to get a green card. Because there is concern that more recent marriages have the higher likelihood to be fake marriages with the sole intent being to get a green card, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have an extra opportunity to review these more recent marriages a second time (two years into the marriage) to verify that the marriage is real. For this reason, the green card holder is considered “conditional” and not “permanent”.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?

While everyone with conditional permanent residence who wishes to remain in the U.S. must apply for permanent status approximately 90 days before the expiration date of their temporary green card, the answer to this question depends on the specifics of your situation.

If you are still married to the same U.S. citizen you started the process with:

You must apply for permanent status by proving that your marriage is ongoing and supply further proof that you and your spouse are establishing a life together. Tax returns filed jointly, bank account statements, photos, affidavits, bills in both names, life/health insurance in both names are all examples of documents that can help you to prove this. 

If you are divorced from the U.S. citizen you started the process with:

To apply for permanent status based on your marriage if you are divorced from the U.S. citizen you started the process with, you must file Form I-751: Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. In such cases, you may apply to remove the conditions on your permanent residence at any time after you become a conditional resident, but before you are removed from the country. You must also provide evidence that removal from the United States would cause you extreme hardship.

If you are remarried to someone other than the U.S. citizen you started the process with:  

To apply for permanent status based on your marriage if you are divorced from the U.S. citizen you started the process with, you still must file Form I-751: Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. You cannot transfer the permanent status process from one marriage to another. At this point, you must provide evidence that removal from the United States would cause you extreme hardship.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

My conditional permanent residence card has expired… What should I do?

You should contact us to help you apply for permanent status. You will have to explain to immigration officials the reason for your delay in applying but your case will be looked upon more favorably than if you are caught by immigration officials living in the country on an expired green card.  

My child received a conditional permanent residence card - Can we file Form I-751 together?

It depends. If your child received conditional resident status within 90 days of when you did, then your child may be included in your application to remove the conditions on permanent residence. Your child must file a separate I-751 application if your child received conditional resident status more than 90 days after you did.

I’m separated from the U.S. citizen I started the process with but we are still legally married - What should I do?

To apply for permanent status based on your marriage if you are separated from the U.S. citizen you started the process with, you must get legally divorced and have a divorce decree to prove it. Once you can prove you are divorced, you will file Form I-751: Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.

My spouse died - What do I do?

To apply for permanent status based on your marriage if the U.S. citizen you started the process with has passed away,  you must file for permanent status based on your legitimate marriage (and provide documents that show you were establishing a life together) and also provide a death certificate to show your spouse has passed away. 

 

If you have more questions or are preparing to apply for permanent status, please book your free consultation with us at any one of our eight office locations throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. We are eager to help!