What is a Conditional Green Card?

A Conditional Green Card is a document that provides foreign nationals who are married to United States citizens a two-year residency. A conditional green card is only valid for two years and cannot be renewed. This type of green card is typically issued to an individual married for less than two years prior to having a green card issued. The conditional green card holder has the same rights as a green card holder in that they can live and work in the United States for the two-year limit. To remain in the United States, at some point during this time frame, the status of the conditional green card must be updated to a 10-year green card. If the update isn't made during the 90-day window prior to the conditional green card expiration date, the permanent resident status will be withdrawn and the cardholder will be legally required to leave the country.

What is Conditional Permanent Residency?

An individual that has married a citizen of the United States and has immigrated to the country before their second wedding anniversary is granted conditional permanent resident status with a conditional green card. The children of a conditional permanent resident may also be granted conditional permanent residency.

Investors with the EB-5 visa are granted conditional permanent residency. The EB-5 visa is granted to foreign investors that meet specific criteria. The visa and conditional permanent residency can be extended to the spouse and children of the investor.

How to Remove Conditions on Green Card?

If you don't take action prior to the conditional green card expiring, you will lose your residency status. This means that conditional green card holders must begin the process of removal of conditions prior to the expiration of the conditional green card. Although the process of removing conditions is similar, there are differences for those conditional green card holders by marriage and by investment.

A specific form is required for each of the green card types. It must be completed and submitted with the required documents. If the application is for the removal of conditions to a green card, the applicant must also complete an interview. For marriage green cards specifically, the applicants are typically required to answer several green card interview questions honestly and exhaustively.

Conditional Green Card Removal Interview

In late April of 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a government agency, started a new policy in relation to its immigration laws when it comes to conditional green card removal interviews. The new policy implements a risk-based approach that is expected to increase efficiency and reduce processing times. USCIS has specific criteria to follow to determine if the conditional green card holder must undergo an interview. Essentially, this criteria involves that there must be sufficient evidence as to the legitimacy of the marriage. Immigration services, part of another government agency, is aware of this and are working with the USCIS to implement the policy.

Removing conditions for a Marriage Green Card

To remove conditions for a conditional marriage green card, the conditional resident must file Form I-751. The conditional resident will have to provide supporting documentation (see our page about proof of marriage documents), including an original certificate of marriage and a joint petition to remove the conditions. You'll also have to pay the filing fee.

Removing conditions for an Investor

According to current immigration laws, to remove the conditions to become a permanent resident based on financial investment, the individual with conditional resident status will have to file Form I-829 for the removal of the conditions and become a permanent resident.

What Happens If You Don’t Remove the Conditions?

If you don't remove the conditions, you will not be granted permanent resident status and, per citizen and immigration services, you'll have to leave the country. You may also want to check our page about green card renewal.

How Long Does It Take to Remove Conditions on a Green Card?

It is assumed that your goal is to become a permanent resident, as opposed to a conditional permanent resident. To transition from a conditional permanent resident to a permanent resident, you must remove the conditions or you will be required to leave the country, per citizenship and immigration services.

Reasons for Your Removal of Conditions To Be Denied

There are different reasons for your permanent resident card to not be issued and your removal of conditions to be denied. It could be that you did not file the form required in the right time frame. Another reason is lack of evidence and, if that occurs, you'll be given instructions for refiling (see our page about USCIS request for evidence). That makes it critical that you seek to remove the conditions prior to when the conditional green card expires.

Conditional Green Card Divorce

If you get divorced while you are considered to have a conditional residence, but prior to being considered to have a permanent residence, you may face extra risks to your immigration status. USCIS will require that you submit your divorce decree as part of the documentation.

Since "bad faith" is often included in these divorce cases because of the effort by the citizen spouse to prove that the foreign national spouse is trying to circumvent immigration laws, it may be better to let the divorce go to the court where the accusing spouse will have to prove that the marriage was in bad faith. If you still want to apply for permanent residency, you'll want to have the joint filing requirement waived and provide evidence of the legitimacy of the marriage. You will also need to provide a copy of your final divorce decree. You'll also need to show that your marriage was in good faith. Check our page about conditional green card divorce.

What Happens if My Spouse Dies?

If your spouse dies, you might be wondering what happens to your conditional residence status or your permanent residence status. Even if your spouse dies prior to when the conditional residence expires in two years, you can still file Form I-751. Immigration may see this as an extreme hardship and make it possible for you to obtain permanent residence status based on your application alone. To apply for extreme hardship, you'll have to provide evidence, which may help you attain permanent residency. This will need to be accompanied by your Form I-751.

CR6 green card

A CR6 green card is a conditional green card issued to the spouse of a citizen of the United States. This involves filing Form I-751. See our page about marrying a U.S. citizen.

CF1 green card

A CF1 green card is a conditional green card issued after entering the United States as a fiance or fiancee to a citizen of the United States. You will have to file Form I-751.

CR1-11 visa

The CR1-11 visas are conditional marriage-based green cards, which the conditional permanent resident receives if the marriage is in good faith. This will involve filing jointly with your spouse.

Conditional Green Card FAQs

Can you travel with a conditional green card?

With conditional green cards, but not yet lawful permanent residents, it is possible to travel in and out of the United States without getting a special visa, such as an immigrant visa.

Does a conditional green card count toward citizenship?

A conditional green card counts towards citizenship. As a law firm can explain to you, you'll be able to apply to become a naturalized citizen within three years of receiving your conditional green card. This will allow you to obtain permanent residence based on your status. This involves being able to obtain birth certificates after the completion of the Form I-751

How long can I stay outside the US with a conditional green card?

You can stay outside the United States for a year and a day without a conditional green card. Generally, those with this type of green card have the same rights as those with a permanent green card.

What is the difference between CR1 and IR1?

A CR1 is a conditional marriage green card valid for a two-year period. An IR1 is a permanent green card valid for ten years. In either case, you don't need a work permit but can work legally in the country.

What is the difference between CR1 and CR6?

The CR1 is a conditional marriage green card and came to the United States on an immigrant visa, approved abroad, while the CR6 shows that you're the spouse of a United States citizen and came to the United States based on this marriage. It is valid for a two-year period.

What is the difference between a conditional and permanent green card?

The biggest difference is the resident status. One way to help get the conditions lifted is to show joint ownership of something, like a bank account.

What are the restrictions of a conditional green card?

You are not a full resident with a conditional green card. If you leave the country for more than a year, you are assumed to give up your status and have to start over. This will include having to start conditions removal proceedings at the appropriate time. You have to file to remove the conditions within a two-year period and your second anniversary. To prove your marriage is in good faith, you must provide supporting documents.

Can I cancel my spouse's conditional green card status?

No, your spouse cannot cancel your conditional green card status. However, you can allege extreme cruelty, which may make it possible for you to proceed with obtaining a permanent green card on your own.

Can you work on a CR1 visa?

You can work on a CR1 visa. You can work for a public company or a private company.

How can I speed up my CR1 visa?

The first step is to follow the written instructions. If your marriage ended, you can continue the process on your own and file a petition to remove conditions.

How long does it take to remove the conditions on a green card?

It can take 12 to 18 months to process Form I-751. The thoroughness and accuracy of the application make a difference. However, conditions on your permanent green card may be related to your home country and recent marriages. Your petition may be delayed as a result of changes in your status, such as the addition of conditions on your permanent green card. The USCIS allows applicants to check their processing time online.

What is the cost to remove the conditions on a green card?

Once you petition to remove the conditions on your green card after your marriage to a U.S. citizen, you'll find that your petition involves a fee, which is typical $595. You'll have to pay an additional $85 biometrics fee, which must be paid for all applicants that petition to remove conditions. If you're a family with multiple applicants, you can use the USCIS fee calculator to determine their total cost.

Is there an interview to remove conditions on the green card?

Sometimes, an interview is required to remove conditions on a green card. Until late April 2022, these interviews were required, but now it is based on risk assessments. If you do have to go to an interview, you'll have to prove you know sensitive information about your spouse. Providing evidence of joint bank accounts is a great option. You may also want to have an immigration lawyer if you have to take part in an interview. This is all-important to be aware of when you file your petition to have your conditions of residence following your marriage to a U.S. citizen lifted.

An experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate the process for a foreign national and citizen spouse to ensure his or her spouse can remain in the country and together. Be sure your petition is in good hands. Having a good law firm on your side is a great idea when you're dealing with immigration law and want to have the conditions on your conditional green card lifted so that you can take the next step toward becoming a citizen of your new country. Post a job on UpCounsel to see how we can help you get your conditions lifted today!