Getting married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident does not guarantee a full-fledged green card right off the bat. Conditional green cards are issued to individuals who have been married for less than 2 years at the point when their green card is approved and while you are authorized to live and work with this conditional green card it is valid for a finite time after which you have to update your status and petition to remove the conditions on your permanent resident status. In this guide, we’ll explore how to obtain a conditional green card then how to transition to a “permanent” green card.
Conditional Green Card vs Permanent Green Card
What is a Conditional Green Card?
A conditional green card, abbreviated by CR1, is valid for two years and issued to foreign nationals who have been married for less than two years. Since the conditional green card is not one that can be renewed, you need to adjust your status in the 90-day period before it expires in order to avoid losing status and having to depart the United States. Part of the process to remove the conditions on your permanent residency is to demonstrate that your marriage is bonafide.
Petition to Remove Conditions
So your conditional green card is nearing the end of its validity period and now you need to petition to remove the conditions with Form I-751.
This is considered a joint petition to remove the conditions since both you and your partner will sign it (exceptions listed below to divorce, abuse, etc.)
When do you file Form I-751?
You should plan to file within the 90-day window that your conditional green card expires. Know that this is considered a joint petition which means both partners should complete and sign the form together. Along with this form you will need to provide adequate evidence that your marriage is authentic. Documents like joint bills, joint lease/mortgages, photos of you both together, children (if any) are all important components in addition to a copy of your conditional green card plus the filing and biometric fees. A marriage green card lawyer will best be able to guide you about what documents to include in your filing package.
If you have dependent children who acquired conditional resident status on the same day as you or within 90 days thereafter, then include the names and Alien Registration Numbers (A-Numbers) of these children in Part 5. of Form I-751 in order to request that the conditions on their status be removed as well.
Conditional Green Card and Marriage
Can I file Form I-751 without my spouse?
You can do so without your spouse if any of the following conditions apply:
- The marriage was entered in good faith but the spouse is not deceased
- The marriage was entered in good faith but the union is now terminated due to annulment or divorce
- The marriage was entered in good faith but there is domestic violence or extreme cruelty by the petitioning spouse
- You are the child of a conditional resident parent who entered the marriage in good faith but you have been subject to violence or extreme cruelty by your parent’s spouse or by the conditional resident parent
- Losing your status and being removed from the U.S. would cause ‘extreme hardship’
If you are filing with the request to have the joining requirement waived (filing individually) you can do so between the time your are granted conditional resident status and before being removed from the U.S.
If extraordinary circumstances arise and you are unable to file (not due to your fault) you are permitted to file late but must include a detailed explanation of the reason you’re filing late to USCIS.
Filing Fee & Biometric Service Fee
The filing fee for Form I-751 is $595 while the biometric service fee is $85.
What to Bring to Your Biometrics Appointment
Review your biometric appointment sheet to see what exactly they’d like you to bring. You’ll definitely need a form of government photo ID such as :
- Driver’s License
- Passport or ID issued by home country
- Military or state-issued photo ID
Do your best not to miss this appointment however, if you do need to reschedule it call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833) prior to the scheduled appointment date. If you do not show up to your appointment or reschedule it through the proper channels, USCIS will consider your application abandoned and subsequently deny it.
*Each conditional resident and conditional resident dependent included in the principal petitioner’s Form I-751 is required to submit a biometric services fee with this petition, in addition to the required filing fee.
U.S. lawful permanent resident spouses and U.S. citizens are not required to include the biometric service fee when the petition is submitted. At a later point USCIS may request it by sending you a biometric service appointment notice.
Documents to Support Good Faith Marriage
- Birth certificates of children born during marriage if applicable
- Joint housing contracts like mortgages or leases
- Joint financial accounts (checking/savings), joint tax returns
- Insurance policies with the spouse as the beneficiary
- Joint utility bills
- Copies of military Leave and Earnings Statements showing receipt of Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ) with family members for military members
- Sworn affidavits by friends who are familiar with the relationship
Conditional Green Card vs Permanent Green Card Timeline
- File Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions
- 6-8 weeks later you receive Form I-797C Notice of Action (receipt letter) from USCIS. This basically is letting you know that USCIS received and is processing your petition
- Make a copy of this letter and have it with you at all times along with your expired conditional green card as proof of your status. Keep the original letter in a secure place.
- A short time after, you’ll receive a letter from USCIS with information regarding your biometrics appointment to be done at a local USCIS office. At this appointment, they will take your fingerprints, signature and a photo of you as well as a criminal background check. This information will be used to make your new permanent resident card.
- You and your spouse will need to have an interview with a USCIS officer (sometimes this can be bypassed). After the immigration officer reviews your case, you will then get an approval notice and you will be mailed your 10-year green card.
*Note that processing times are an estimate and vary by the USCIS caseload, the specific office you filed at and how complete your petition package is. If additional documents are requested by USCIS or you make mistakes in filing, additional delays will occur. To prevent your petition from being rejected or delays as a result of a Request for Evidence, it is strongly recommended to hire an immigration lawyer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Conditional Green Cards
My conditional green card expired, can I still work?
If your conditional green card expired but your filed Form I-751 already then your resident status is automatically extended for 24 months while your case is processed by USCIS. On the receipt notice it will say “Your conditional permanent resident status is extended for 24 months from the expiration date on your Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card).” That means you are legally able to travel out of the United States and work in the U.S. for those 24 months.
Do I need to file an extension for this 24-month period?
No, as long as you have submitted Form I-751 prior to the expiration of your conditional green card, this extension is automatic.
What if I am asked for my papers?
If someone asks you can show them the receipt notice from USCIS (mailed within 6-8 weeks after filing Form I-751) and your expired green card as these serve as proof of your status.
What if my conditional green card expired and I didn’t file Form I-751?
In these cases, you should seek help from an immigration attorney sooner than later. Being proactive with your immigration status is the best way to ensure you can live, work and prosper in the United States. Give us a call to schedule a consultation.
Can someone with a conditional green card do everything a permanent green card holder can?
Yes, apart from the fact that after the two years, the conditional green card holder has to apply to remove conditions, they have the same rights.
Do people with 10-year green cards need to file Form I-751?
No, they do not. Only those with conditional 2-year green cards.
What does IR1 on my green card mean?
This stands for immediate relative.
Does my time as a conditional resident count towards my citizenship?
Yes, it does.
What is a CR6 green card?
CR is the class of admission so if you see CR6 that means you have a conditional green card.
Is an interview required?
If you and your spouse are filing jointly to remove the conditions then you likely will not need an interview unless important information is missing from your petition packet. The odds of having to go through an interview are higher if you are requesting to waive the joint filing requirement, which is the case if you are divorced.
How long does it take to get permanent green card from conditional?
Once you have filed Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, the processing time for your permanent green card can range from 12 to 18 months. Much of the processing time will be contingent on how completely you filed your paperwork, including all documents requested. For that reason, it’s highly advised to have an immigration professional thoroughly review your case and ensure all documents are properly submitted.
What is the difference between a conditional and permanent resident?
A conditional green card is valid for two years while permanent green card (granted to permanent residents) is valid for ten years.
Can I cancel my spouse’s conditional green card?
The complexity of canceling spouse’s green card depends on if their I-130 or I-485 petition has been approved yet. If they have not been approved yet then the process is pretty straightforward. The sponsor will need to request a reversal of the petition with a letter to USCIS and include any tracking numbers. In the event that the green card has already been approved (but not yet issued) then you must include a reason you are requesting the withdrawal. If the green card has already been approved and the individual has already received status as a U.S. citizen then you will need to prove that fraudulent activity has taken place.
How do I cancel my spouse’s green card?
If it hasn’t been approved yet, then you can reverse the I-130 with a signed and notarized letter.
Who gets a 2-year conditional green card?
Individuals who have been married for less than two years are issued conditional green cards.
Do EB-5 recipients get conditional green cards?
Yes, these individuals must also have conditional green cards for two years prior to becoming permanent residents. Learn more about EB-5 investor green cards here.
How We Can Help
So your conditional green card is set to expire and you need assistance in obtaining a permanent green card. Our experienced immigration attorneys can advise you on what to expect when going through this process. To learn how VisaNation Law Group can help you, fill out the Immigration Consultation form.