Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Basics Of The Conditional Green Card

conditional-green-card-medThere are many popular misconceptions about the United States permanent resident card – more commonly known as the green card – floating around these days. Many people don’t realize that a lot has changed when it comes to gaining permanent residence in the United States. Based on legislation that was passed back in the late 1980s and the late 1990s, the most common avenue for qualifying for U.S. residency – marriage – has been greatly restricted and diminished. While marriage is still one of the quickest ways to get an American green card, it most commonly results in a conditional green card first.

What Is A Conditional Green Card?

If the marriage that you’re using to qualify for permanent residence status is less than two years at the time that the green card application is filed, then it will be conditional. Conditions are imposed on the status of your permanent residency in this case because the government and the relevant authorities want to ensure that the marriage is not fraudulent – i.e., that you did not become married strictly to gain residency. While getting a conditional green card is a positive first step toward becoming a U.S. citizen, it is still by no means a surefire thing.

Important Aspects Of Conditional Green Cards

Conditional green cards, as their name implies, place conditions on the status of your permanent residency. Under those conditions, if your marriage falls apart within two years it can be taken as an admission that it was fraudulent. In that instance, you would lose your permanent residency and would have to go back to your home country. To avoid that, you need to apply to have the conditions removed from your residence. However, you can’t apply to have those conditions lifted whenever you feel like it; there are certain rules that must be followed.

The main thing to keep in mind when it comes to a conditional green card is that you’ll need to apply to have those conditions lifted within the 90 day period before the second anniversary – and expiration – of your conditional residency. You can easily determine the date of your second anniversary by looking at your greencard. An expiration date should be prominently printed on your permanent resident card; that is the date by which you must apply to have those conditions lifted. However, that application must be filed within the 90 days prior to expiration or it will not be valid.

Applying To Have Conditions Lifted

Once you’ve determined the three month period of time in which you can file to have the conditions from your permanent residency lifted, you need to act on it. Be sure to come up with a set date that you will file the appropriate forms on. In the case of a marriage that’s being used to satisfy the criteria for permanent residency, you will need to file form I-751, which is also known as the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Make sure that this is done no later than the expiration date; otherwise, your residency will become expired and you could be deported.

It is important to note that the appropriate form must be filed jointly. In other words, your spouse must appear with you to file form I-751. In most cases, a marriage that has ended before the two year period of time has expired is considered sufficient evidence for denying permanent residency. However, if it can be shown that the marriage ended through no fault of your own – i.e., your spouse died or they were abusive toward you – then you might be able to get around this requirement.

Participating In The Green Card Interview

After filing your form I-751, you and your spouse will have to participate in a green card interview. During this immigration interview, you will have to prove that you and your U.S. resident spouse have been living together as man and wife in the preceding years. The entire purpose of this interview is to prove to the immigration authorities that the marriage was not entered into for fraudulent means – in other words, that you did not pay your spouse to marry you in order to gain residency.

The green card interview questions can vary from case to case; the best course of action is to be as honest and open as possible. Be prepared to provide documentary evidence about your marriage and be willing to hand over as much evidence as possible about you and your spouse. The more information you have, the better. If all goes well, you won’t have to deal with a conditional green card for much longer. Your permanent residence status will be extended at one year intervals until your petition is approved or denied. Either way, knowing what to expect is the best way to get through the conditional green card process.


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