There are two circumstances under which the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues conditional green cards. They are:

  • When a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen and the marriage is less than two years since entry to the U.S.
  • When a foreign investor wants to work with an American business or start-up

Though conditional green cards provide the same rights as permanent green cards, there is one major difference: the conditional green card is only valid for two years while the permanent green card is valid for ten years, and the conditional green card cannot be renewed while the permanent green card can be.

If you hold a conditional green card, you were notified of that status at the time that it was issued, and at the same time, were told about the deadline for requesting that the conditions be removed. You will not receive notification prior to its expiration, so you need to be aware and proactive in order to make sure that you have the opportunity to change your status. Having an immigration lawyer help is highly recommended.

The process is different for those whose conditional cards were issued for marriage purposes and those who are foreign investors/entrepreneurs, with the marriage process much more complex. This is because the USCIS wants to ensure that the marriage is legitimate, and not entered into simply to gain the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen.

Entrepreneurs wishing to remove the conditional resident status need to submit a removal request petition using form I-829. The petition needs to be submitted within 90 days of the conditional green card’s expiration date. If your request is denied or you fail to submit the documents, you will need to leave the U.S. no later than the expiration date on your card. The only exception to this rule is if you can prove that extenuating circumstances prevented your timely submission of the petition.

For those holding conditional green cards issued for a marriage, a removal request petition needs to be completed using USCIS Form I-751, by both spouses, within 90 days of the card’s expiration. The goal is to prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith, so documentation such as joint bank account statements, joint leases, a marriage license, children’s birth certificates and other information corroborating a partnership should be part of the submission. An interview may be required. If the marriage has dissolved during the two-year period, the immigrant will need to file a waiver appeal allowing them to submit Form I-751 without their spouse.

Once conditional status is removed, the immigrant will be issued a permanent card that is good for ten years and which will be able to be renewed with much less bureaucracy. For assistance in preparing any of the required documents, contact our immigration attorneys today.

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