Conditional Permanent Resident

Posted by Frank Gogol

Are you an immigrant who is married to a U.S. citizen? Or an entrepreneur who got an employment-based Green Card? Are you looking to get or do you already have a conditional permanent residence? How does it work? What do you need to know about it and how can you get it?

Below are the most important things you need to know about becoming a conditional permanent resident. You can also find some information about how to remove a conditional status once you are eligible. This is how it works.

What is Conditional Permanent Residence?

A conditional permanent resident is someone who falls into one of two categories. They are either married to a U.S. citizen or they got an employment-based Green Card as an entrepreneur. They obtain a marriage-based Green Card or employment-based Green Card and gain all the benefits associated with being a lawful permanent resident (LPR), but they receive conditional status. The conditional status only lasts for a while and the Green Cardholder needs to renew their Green Card before it expires.

The USCIS uses conditional permanent residence to test whether the marriage of a citizen and an immigrant is bona fide. When the conditional Green Card expires the couple must apply together for the removal of the foreign spouse’s conditional status. The same with the employment-based Green Card. The USCIS wants to see whether the investment was made into the U.S. only to obtain the Green Card.

Conditional Permanent Resident Status

Someone on a conditional Green Card can live and work in the U.S. just like any other Green Cardholder would. But their status is only temporary. The person received a Green Card based on one of the two categories mentioned above. But in both cases, the beneficiary must renew their Green Card before it expires. This process is also referred to as removing a conditional status.

Removing Conditional Status

Each category of conditional permanent resident has specific documentation required to remove conditional status.

A marriage-based conditional Green Card is valid for 2 years. The Green Cardholder must file a Form I-751 to remove their conditional status. They must file it with their spouse at least 90 days before the expiry date of their current conditional Green Card. This allows enough processing time and helps them to avoid any possible deportation procedures.

Conditional Green Cards for entrepreneurs last 2 years. They also need to apply for the removal of their conditional status 90 days before their current Green Card expires. They need to file a Form I-829 to remove their conditional status. They essentially need to prove the following to earn their Green Cards:

  • The required investment into the relevant commercial enterprise wasn’t made on the sole premise to win a U.S. Green Card
  • The investment was indeed made
  • They are actively involved with the relevant commercial enterprise
  • Their enterprise generated the required number of work opportunities for U.S. employees.

But what happens if you don’t remove your conditional status before your Green Card expires?

Failure to Remove Conditions on Green Card

There could be many reasons why someone would miss the removal of their conditional status. Please avoid it at all costs by trying your best to remove it in due time. If you don’t remove the conditional status on time, this is what you can expect.

For Marriage-Based Green Cards

Foreign spouses who don’t remove their conditional status after the 2nd year will automatically lose their conditional permanent resident status. This also means they immediately become removable from the U.S. and run the risk of being deported. Any deportation orders will possibly hinder future immigration attempts.

We know that there are, unfortunately, situations that are not as straightforward. So we’ll look at some frequently asked questions below which may help you solve your marriage-based conditional Green Card issues.

For Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs who don’t remove their conditional status before it expires immediately go “out of status”. They automatically become subject to removal procedures as set out by U.S. immigration law. This doesn’t only affect them. It may have an adverse effect on their family members as well who have dependent Green Cards as well.

File on time to avoid possible ramifications. Make sure to provide proof of your eligibility for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. Filing on time is not enough to get your LPR status. You need to supply all the required paperwork and supporting evidence to get your Green Card.

Conditional Permanent Resident FAQ

Life doesn’t always happen as we plan it. Something outside of your control might be dictating your life. How can you still qualify for your Green Card conditional status removal? Read through the following frequently asked questions to understand how you can possibly still get your Green Card renewed.

What if we get a divorce?

You could still get your permanent resident status even if you got divorced during the two years of your conditional status. You need to request a waiver of the requirement that your spouse needs to file the form with you. Though it might be waived you still need to prove your bona fide marriage to your former spouse while it lasted.

Include all kinds of evidence like photos, conversations, itineraries of planned trips. Also, include any evidence that could show the U.S. citizen spouse was to blame for the failure of the marriage. It also counts in your favor if you can prove the U.S. citizen spouse filed for divorce and that you also pursued marriage counseling and other attempts to save the marriage.

You don’t have to wait for the customary “90 days before expiry date” window period to file for your conditional status to be removed. Include court papers stating the final divorce decree in your application to become U.S. permanent resident.

What if I was abused during my marriage?

You don’t need the help of your spouse to file for this if you were abused or battered during the marriage. You can apply for the removal of your conditional status without the assistance of your spouse. Include evidence of the abuse that includes things like restraining orders, affidavits confirming the events, photographs and medical reports detailing injuries caused by the abuse. Other types of evidence could also suffice. Add the final divorce decree papers to the application.

My marriage ended. What if the termination of my residency will result in “extreme hardship” to me.

This category doesn’t exactly require you to prove a bona fide marriage. Instead, it requires you to prove that you would suffer “extreme hardship” if you had to go back to your home country. Only factors that arose during your conditional Green Card period are considered.

A civil war in your home country could prove extreme hardship if it broke out whilst you were in the U.S. on your conditional status.

What if my spouse dies?

You could still be eligible for the removal of your conditional status. You need to include your spouse’s death certificate and all evidence of the life you shared. You also don’t have to wait until 90 days before your current Green Card expires. You can file as soon as your spouse passes away.

You can tick as many boxes as you’d like confirming any of the above-mentioned scenarios on your Form I-751. Just remember to add your evidence and most importantly sign your application or else it will be rejected by the USCIS.

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Conclusion

Whether you are an entrepreneur with an employment-based Green Card or a foreign spouse with a marriage-based Green Card, you need to apply to remove the conditional status from your Green Card before it expires.

Now you know how to apply and go from a conditional permanent resident to a lawful permanent resident.

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