When you marry a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, or when you’re an entrepreneur who’s a conditional permanent resident, you’ll get a green card – but your green card is conditional, and it’s only valid for two years. That means you must meet certain conditions in order to keep your lawful permanent resident status in the United States. You must remove the conditions from your green card in order to keep lawful permanent residency status; if you don’t, the U.S. government can initiate removal proceedings against you.
Here’s what you need to know about the removal of conditions on a green card, including how to do it, when you should apply and what happens if you don’t remove your conditions.
Removal of Conditions on a Green Card: What You Need to Know
When you marry a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and obtain a green card through marriage, or when you’re an immigrant investor with a conditional green card, you’ll see “CR1” on your green card. That means you’re a conditional resident. Your current, conditional green card is non-renewable; it’s only valid for two years.
You must file a petition within 90 days of your green card’s expiration to keep your lawful permanent immigrant status. The petition will remove the conditions on your green card and the U.S. government will then issue you a permanent green card. Your permanent green card will be valid for 10 years.
What Are the “Conditions” on a Conditional Green Card?
If you married a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, your status in the United States is conditional until you prove that you didn’t get married only to get immigration benefits; if you’re an investor, you’ll have to show that you’re still invested in a U.S. enterprise, that you have an active role in the business, and that you’ve invested the right amount and created at least ten jobs.
Losing Residency for Failing to Remove Conditions
You must remove the conditions on your green card in order to remain a lawful permanent resident of the United States. If you fail to remove the conditions, your green card becomes invalid – and at that point, you’re removable from the United States. (That means the U.S. government could choose to deport you.) In any case, you’ll lose your permanent resident status, and you’ll have to leave the country. The longer you go without a lawful immigration status, the more “unlawful presence” days you’ll accrue; if you have enough of these days, you could end up being barred from returning to the United States.
What is Removal of Conditional Residence?
Removal of conditional residence is just another way to say removal of conditions on your green card. When you remove the conditions on your green card, you’re just an everyday lawful permanent resident – you can remain in the United States while living and working anywhere you wish, just like you could with your conditional green card, but you’re no longer “on probation” to see if you’re serious about staying in the country.
Request A Free Consultation Today!
Request A Free Consultation Today!
USCIS Removal of Conditions: When Should You Apply to Remove Conditions From Your Green Card?
Because you can’t renew a conditional green card, you must remove the conditions from it. When you do so, you’ll have a standard green card. You must file a petition to remove conditions within 90 days before your conditional green card expires.
If you don’t file your petition within that 90-day window, you should consult an attorney to find out what to do next. Your options may be limited, but in some circumstances, you can still file to remove the conditions on your green card if you have a valid reason (and circumstances were beyond your control).
Removal of Conditions on a Green Card: Processing Time
It usually takes between 12 and 18 months to remove conditions on a green card. It’s okay if your removal of conditions isn’t approved by the time your conditional green card expires. In fact, USCIS will mail you a receipt letter within six to eight weeks after you apply to remove the conditions. If you need to prove to anyone that you’re still a conditional resident, even if your conditional green card is expired, you need to show your green card and your receipt letter.
The letter you receive from USCIS extends your conditional residence for 18 months while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reviews your case.
Traveling While Removing Conditions on Your Green Card
When you have an expired conditional green card and a receipt letter from USCIS, you can prove that you’re still a conditional resident of the United States. In fact, the receipt letter extends your conditional resident status for 18 months. That means you can travel internationally, but you must remain in the U.S. so you can attend your biometrics appointment.
If you’re planning to travel after you apply to remove the conditions on your green card, but you haven’t yet been approved for a permanent green card, it’s probably a good idea to talk to a San Antonio immigration attorney who can tell you what you need to do to avoid risking your status.
Removing Conditions on a Green Card Without a Spouse’s Knowledge or Consent
You may be able to remove the conditions on your green card without your spouse’s knowledge or consent. Although it’s customary to have your spouse apply for you, there are waivers available for people who are abused or who are going through a divorce.
Not everyone is still eligible to file the appropriate paperwork with USCIS to remove conditions on a green card without a spouse, though. If you intend to remove your conditions without your spouse, you should speak to an immigration attorney. You’ll need a Form I-751 waiver, which asks USCIS to continue processing your case because you’re subject to unique circumstances, such as abuse, extreme hardship or widow(er) status.
If you want a waiver, you’ll have to show that at least one of the following is true:
- Your U.S. citizen spouse has died
- You entered your marriage in good faith, but your marriage no longer exists
- You were subject to abuse or extreme cruelty during your marriage
- Your child was subject to abuse or extreme cruelty during the marriage
- Termination of your conditional residency would cause you extreme hardship
If you request a waiver and the U.S. government agrees that you may use one, you can apply for U.S. citizenship after a year.
Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney About Removal of Conditions?
If you need to speak to a San Antonio immigration attorney about removing the conditions from your green card (with or without your spouse), we may be able to help you. Call our office today to schedule a complimentary consultation with an experienced professional. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions, talk about possible outcomes of your immigration case and give you the legal advice you need right now. We can even fill out and file your removal of conditions paperwork with the U.S. government on your behalf so you don’t have to worry about a thing.