What Is Conditional Residency?

Are you a conditional resident in the U.S.? Learn about the conditional residency status and the steps to remove conditions on your green card.

Conditional Resident Status

If you are a foreign national who arrived in the United States on a marriage visa, it’s crucial to understand your immigration status. When you receive your marriage green card, you may notice you got a conditional permanent residency card. Although the conditional green card lets you begin your life with your spouse in the U.S., it has certain conditions attached to it.

The spouse of a U.S. citizen may be granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis. A conditional permanent resident receives a green card valid for 2 years. 

However, conditional residents are not lawful permanent residents. Instead, they have some rights but have to take extra steps to become permanent residents.

What’s the Purpose of Conditional Residence?

Every marriage-based green card application is carefully reviewed. Typically, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) takes a closer look to ensure the marriage is real or bona fide.

Immigration laws practically allowed the USCIS to review the validity of marriages to eliminate fraudulent green card marriages. Conditional residence allows that type of review.

When the conditional green card holder applies for a permanent resident card, they will have to provide proof their marriage is ongoing and that they have established a life together.

Filing to Remove Conditions 

In order to become a permanent resident, a conditional permanent resident must file a petition to remove the condition during the 90 days before the conditional green card expires, or before the second anniversary of the approval of his or her conditional status. 

Bear in mind that the conditional card cannot be renewed. The conditions must be removed, or the alien will lose his or her permanent resident status.

Failure to file Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence will result in automatic termination of permanent resident status. That will occur the second anniversary of the date on which the conditional resident was granted conditional status. If that happens, the conditional resident must be removed from the United States.

If a failure to file was through no fault of the conditional resident, he or she may submit a written explanation for the late filing. Failure may also be forgiven if the conditional resident demonstrates that the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond their control and that the length of delay was reasonable.

What If the Marriage Ends Before Filing?

The petition should be filed jointly by the conditional resident and their spouse through whom the conditional resident received conditional status. But what if the marriage ends?

The conditional resident may apply for a waiver of the joint filing if they entered the marriage in good faith, but subsequently, the spouse died, or the marriage was terminated due to divorce or annulment. Also, the waiver is available if someone entered the marriage in good faith but has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. 

Another ground available for waiver is when he or she can show that termination of status and removal would result in extreme hardship.

How Can an Immigration Attorney Help?

Fighting to obtain permanent residence can be challenging and scary. Having an experienced immigration lawyer by your side can be highly beneficial to your case.

If you want to apply to remove conditions on your marriage green card, Chacko Law Firm may be able to help. They have experience in different areas of immigration law, including naturalization and permanent residency. Based in Fairfax, Virginia, they can offer full representation and advice.