I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.See all posts Frank Gogol
2-Year Green Card Renewal Guide
If you received a green card based on marriage, you’ll be given a conditional permanent residence green card valid for two years.
Beyond the expiration period of this green card, you can apply for renewal and get a 10-year green card and become a permanent resident. In this article, we will thoroughly explain the process of renewing your 2-year green card.
2-Year Green Card Rewal Explained
When your marriage is less than two years old, you’re granted conditional residency status. This status is set to expire within two years. So the green card is only effective for two years from the date of its issuance.
There are several reasons why this condition exists. First of all, there are marriage frauds that are staged to evade immigration laws. This has been one of the major concerns that U.S. authorities have failed to tackle.
Removing Conditions vs. Renewal
When applying to renew this two-year green card after its expiration, you need to understand that it is not the same as renewing a 10-year green card.
Technically speaking, this is not a “renewal” in the first place. Conditional green cards cannot be renewed. You’re essentially removing the “conditional” status. You have to file a petition to the USCIS to remove the condition.
If you fail to do so within time, then you will be “out of status” and may even face deportation. After you have successfully removed the condition, you are eligible for a 10-year green card, after which you can become a lawful permanent resident of America.
Forms Required for 2-Year Green Card Rewnal
Couples looking forward to renewing their 2-year green card have to submit the required documents as directed by the USCIS. You, along with your partner, have to submit a couple of forms.
Known as the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, this is the form you need to submit for renewing your 2-year green card. When submitting Form I-751, supplement it with the following documents:
- Photocopies of both sides of the expiring green card
- Evidence of marital relationship
- Petition fees
Timing is important while filing Form I-751. You need to file a joint petition within 90 days before the set expiration date. Beyond this time frame, the status is automatically revoked, and gaining legal status is almost impossible. Late filings usually come with higher fees and a satisfactory explanation as to why the petition was not filed in time.
If you’ve obtained a green card by making a financial investment in the U.S., then you need to submit Form I-829 instead of I-751.
Evidence of a Bona Fide Marriage
While filling out the form is straightforward, the overall process of removing the condition can be complicated, to say the least. Aside from the accuracy of the form, you have to make sure the documents being submitted along with the form are accurate as well. Part of this is to prove a good faith marriage.
Since the USCIS doesn’t know how you ended up getting married, you need to do your best to justify your marriage and prove that you got the green card for legitimate purposes and not to evade immigration laws.
The best way to do this is to provide evidence of having a child (or children) together. This often demonstrates having plans for the long-term and not just the short-term. But having children is not mandatory, or the only way.
The sharing of assets and liabilities is also a strong indication of long-term planning. If you’ve joined financial accounts, you can provide those documents to support a bona fide marriage.
Here’s a list of items you can submit for supporting your I-751 petition:
- Birth certificates of children (if any)
- Joint ownership of a home or any real estate property
- Financial records showcasing sharing (joint accounts)
- Travel records (honeymoon and other trips)
- Photographs (wedding photos, social gathering events)
When providing travel records, you can include bills, airline tickets, hotel bookings, and the like to support the submission. Similarly, photographs with dates, places, and names of attendees on the backside have a better chance of being accepted.
So, all in all, be as transparent and informative as possible. If you feel that you have more documents in hand which can support your case, don’t be hesitant to submit them after consulting with an attorney or a USCIS official.
Waiving the Joint Filing Requirement
There are cases where the marriage falls apart within two years, and both partners have either parted ways or are in the process of doing so. This is where you can apply for a waiver and renew the green card for yourself. The following circumstances are applicable for waiving the joint filing of Form I-751:
- You’re a widow or widower whose spouse died within two years of marriage.
- You entered the marriage in good faith, but it ended in divorce within two years.
- You entered the marriage in good faith, but your U.S.-based spouse ill-treated you, or your children faced extreme hardship.
You cannot, however, apply for a waiver if the divorce hasn’t been settled in court at the time of the application. When claiming a waiver based on extreme hardship, it is recommended to consult with an attorney first since there are stringent standards in place for this.
Using Form I-90
As mentioned earlier, renewing your 2-year marriage-based green card is actually removing the condition. It is never renewed. If you’re a lawful permanent resident, then Form I-751 isn’t for you. Since you already have your 10-year green card, you need to file the Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.
While conditional residents cannot submit Form I-90, there are exceptions. You can file Form I-90 to get a 10-year valid green card in case:
- Your green card was stolen, destroyed, or mutilated
- Your green card contains incorrect information
- The card was never issued to you
- There was a legal change in information which doesn’t reflect in the card
2-Year Green Card Renewal Cost
The filing fee for Form I-751 is $595 and an additional $85 biometric fee for each person. You can pay using a money order or check. Check the USCIS for the most current fees.
2-Year Green Card Renewal Processing Time
Since you’re required to apply within 90 days of expiration, the form gets processed within that time frame. But in some cases, it extends for as long as a year. During this extended time, you are still considered a legal resident and will be residing in the U.S. with a pending status.
- Can I Stay More Than 6 Months Outside the U.S. with a Green Card?
- Green Card Process Steps: EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Visa
- SSN Update After Green Card
- How Long Does it Take for USCIS to Make a Decision After an Interview?
- Can You Be Deported if You are Married to an American Citizen?
- Which Countries Can You Visit With a Green Card?