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. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues these cards to spouses of US citizen. The Conditional Green Card cannot be renewed, rather these card holders must apply to have their limited conditions removed to remain a U.S. resident. The purpose of these conditional residency cards is to help prevent fraudulent marriages.

USCIS also issues Conditional Green Cards for foreign investors that want to work with American businesses or start-up ventures. Similar to the limitations from the conditional marriage residency, these business-venture Green Cards expire after two years, and their holders must complete an application to remove the card's conditions.

How are Conditional Green Cards Different from Permanent Green Cards?

A Conditional Green Card and a Permanent Green Card both have the same rights; like public education for the holder's children and employment rights for the holder's spouse. The major differences between these two cards relate to their renewability and length.

The Conditional Green Card only lasts two years, and the holder is unable to renew it once the duration is complete. The Permanent Green Card lasts for 10 years, and the holder is free to renew it once the duration is complete.

Managing the Conditional Resident Status

The Conditional Green Card only grants two years of residency in the United States and cannot be renewed. These limitations mean that if you intend to stay in the U.S. for more than two years, you will need to seek permanent residency sometime within the duration of your conditional status.

The process and eligibility for conditional residents to remove the limitations on their Green Card will depend on which type of Conditional Green Card they applied for, to begin with. The two options for conditional status are either as a foreign business investor or entrepreneur, or a spouse of a U.S. citizen with a marriage that is less than two years from the time you received your conditional status.

What is the Purpose of Conditional Residency?

One of the main reasons for the Conditional Green Card is to prevent sham, or fraudulent marriages entered into on the grounds for granting an immigrant citizenship into the U.S.

Because so many foreign-citizen marriages have proved to be shams in recent years, the Conditional Green Card gives USCIS another opportunity to review residents before granting permanent status in the United States.

How Can Entrepreneurs Remove the Conditional Resident Status?

An entrepreneur who was granted a Conditional Green Cards must submit a removal request petition to the USCIS within 90 days of their card's expiration date. This petition to remove the conditions of the Green Card can be found on USCIS Form I-829.

If you do not submit all required documents in time or if your removal petition is denied by the USCIS, you'll be required to leave the country per your original expiration date. In the event that an extenuating circumstance caused you to file your petition late, you will need to get in touch with an immigration attorney to convince the USCIS to review your late Form I-829 submission.

How Can Conditional Spouse Residents Remove Their Conditional Status?

Within 90 days of the Conditional Green Card expiration date, both spouses must complete the USCIS Form I-751. To be eligible for conditions to be removed, the immigrant and the U.S. citizen must have entered the marriage in good faith and remained married, to each other, for two years.

More Details About the Marriage Resident Conditions Removal Process

If you acquired a Conditional Green Card through marriage with a U.S. citizen, you and your spouse will have to submit a joint petition to the USCIS by completing the Form I-751. This form needs to be submitted within the last 90 days before the conditional status expires.

It's advised to also share legal documents that corroborate the marriage's validity such as:

  • Joint bank account statements
  • Joint lease agreements
  • Children's birth certificates
  • Marriage license
  • Other membership or partnership documents

The USCIS also has the right to interview you and your spouse following the Form I-751 review to test the marriage claims. If the marriage was ended through death or divorce, the immigrant will need to file a waiver appeal to allow them to submit the Form I-751 alone.

What if the Conditions are Removed from the Green Card?

After the relevant application has been sent and reviewed by the USCIS, they will confirm and complete the application if it's approved. An approval will grant the cardholder a valid immigration status. The immigrant will be sent a receipt notice which confirms this status change. They will then have their records checked again and will be called in for biometrics.

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