As many of you may know, foreign nationals who marry U.S. citizens are entitled to apply for a U.S. green card. However, if a foreign national has been married to the U.S. citizen for less than two years, he or she will only be granted a “conditional” green card from the U.S. government.
A conditional green card is like a regular green card in that it represents one’s grant of permanent residence in the U.S. However, two years after being granted a conditional green card, the foreign national and his or her spouse must demonstrate to the U.S. government that their marriage was entered into in good faith and not for immigration benefits. In this way, the purpose of conditional residence is to overcome the notion that a foreign national fraudulently entered into marriage with a U.S. citizen to gain permanent residence in the U.S.
An individual is eligible to remove conditions on permanent residence if:
- He or she is still married to the same U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- He or she is a widow or widower of a marriage that was entered into in good faith;
- He or she entered into the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was ended through divorce or annulment;
- He or she entered into the marriage in good faith, but was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse; or
- Termination of conditional resident status would cause extreme hardship.
Within ninety days of the second anniversary of receiving a conditional green card, the foreign national and the U.S. citizen spouse must jointly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence. The petition will be filed at the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the foreign national’s place of residence, together with a copy of the foreign national’s Permanent Resident Card and evidence of a valid marriage. Once an individual’s application to remove conditions is granted, he or she will be given a 10-year permanent resident card.
USCIS does not send a reminder notice at the end of the conditional residence period to file Form I-751, so it is important that conditional residents carefully monitor their dates. Failure to timely file Form I-751 will result in a loss of one’s permanent resident status. Losing one’s permanent resident status can result in removal from the U.S. Late filings are permitted when accompanied by a sufficient explanation of the reasons for filing late.
Berardi Immigration Law routinely notifies our marriage-based green card clients prior to the expiry of their conditional residence. We also provide services for the filing of the Form I-751 petition. If you are interested in pursuing a green card based on marriage, call or email Berardi Immigration Law today to schedule a consultation with our attorneys.