What is a Conditional Green Card (conditional lawful permanent resident)?
If a couple has been married less than two years when the noncitizen spouse is granted lawful permanent resident status (usually at the green card interview), the noncitizen spouse will receive permanent resident status on a conditional basis. What this means is that the noncitizen spouse’s green card will only be valid for 2 years, not 10 years.
If a noncitizen and his or her U.S. citizen/LPR spouse have been married for more than 2 years by the time the green card interview is scheduled, then the noncitizen spouse will be issued a green card (lawful permanent residence card) for 10 years, and is easily renewable at the end of that 10 year period. If the couple continues to reside together as husband and wife, then your noncitizen spouse will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship 3 years after s/he received her green card ? usually received at the green card interview.
How Can I Remove the Condition on my Green Card?
(so my green card will become a 10 year green card)
To convert the conditional (2 year) green card into a 10 year green card, the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident sponsoring spouse and the conditional green card-holding spouse must together to petition to have the condition removed, or else the green card will expire and lawful permanent residency status terminated. This petition must be filed within the 3 month period before the green card expires. This process is intended to prove to CIS that the couple still resides together as husband and wife and much documentation of joint assets, funds, and accounts is necessary for a successful petition.
What is my spouse will not cooperate or help me file the have the condition taken off of my green card?
The point of a condition being placed on lawful permanent residency status is the belief that many marriages are entered into just for the purpose of obtaining a green card, not for love or any other reason. The only way Congress could figure out how to detect potentially fraudulent marriages was to put a two year limit on green cards issued to spouses in marriages that were less than two years old. This strategy also ensures that the marriages are more likely to be real, i.e., entered into for love or other non-immigration purpose, because the couple have to still prove to CIS that they are still together and living as husband and wife two years after the noncitizen first receives his or her green card, by filing more paperwork with CIS with supporting documentation of the marriage, and potentially interview again in front of a CIS officer, all to have the conditional nature of the green card removed.
If a couple separates or divorces at any time after the green card is first issued, it is unlikely that the originally sponsoring U.S. citizen or LPR spouse will cooperate in helping the noncitizen spouse release the condition on the green card for a number of reasons. If this happens, the noncitizen may be able to apply to have the condition removed from his or her own green card by applying for a waiver. The waiver allows the noncitizen to apply to remove the condition on his or her green card without the assistance of their spouse. There are currently three different ways or grounds to apply for a waiver:
(1) bona fide marriage ground (if your divorce is final at the time of filing);
(2) extreme hardship (to the alien if deported to their original country); or
(3) extreme cruelty (proving that the noncitizen alien received physical, emotional, or financial abuse from their spouse)
CIS allows a noncitizen to apply for any number of these grounds on the same petition. Waivers are generally more difficult to get approved and universally require an interview of the noncitizen spouse for the case to be approved.
If I am a conditional permanent resident, will a divorce or separation affect my immigration status?
If you are a victim of battery or extreme cruelty and you have obtained conditional residency based on your marriage, you should still be able to keep lawful immigration status. If your husband will not cooperate in removing your conditional status, you can ask for a waiver, where his consent, participation, and even knowledge about what you are doing, is not needed.
Once a waiver application is filed based on the extreme cruelty ground, even if your spouse contacts CIS to have you deported, CIS cannot tell him that you have filed an extreme cruelty waiver; the extreme cruelty waiver process is confidential and is for your protection.
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