Your permanent residence status is conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years old on the day you got permanent residence. This article will teach you how to remove conditions on your green card. You get a conditional resident green card when you are lawfully admitted to the United States on an immigrant visa or adjustment of your status to permanent residence. Your status is conditional because you must prove that you did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the United States. In addition, you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on a Green Card, to remove these conditions.
Your status is also conditional if you received an EB-5 investment-based green card. Still, we will primarily focus on marriage-based green cards due to most conditional residents being so through marriage.
Removal of Conditions Green Card Requirements
Generally, you may apply to remove your conditions on permanent residence if you:
- Are still married to the same U.S. citizen or permanent resident after two years. You may include your children in your application if they received their conditional resident status at the same time that you did or within 90 days.
- Are a child and are not on your parents’ application for a valid reason
- Are a widow or widower of a marriage that you entered into in good faith
- Entered into a marriage in good faith, but the marriage ended through divorce or annulment
- Entered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse
- The termination of your conditional resident status would cause extreme hardship to you
How to Apply to Remove the Conditions
You and your spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on your residence by filing Form I-751. You should apply during the 90 days before your second anniversary as a conditional resident. The expiration date on your green card is also the date of your second anniversary as a conditional resident. If you do not apply to remove the conditions in time, you could lose your conditional resident status. USCIS will then remove you from the country.
As for the documents needed to remove conditions on a green card, you must submit several documents as supporting evidence. USCIS might require the following documents:
- A copy of your and your children’s conditional green cards
- Documents supporting the legitimacy of your marriage
- Other documents required for Form I-751
Reasons for Denial To Remove Conditions On Green Card
There are only a handful of reasons why USCIS might deny your application to remove conditions on a green card. Usually, these reasons are:
- Your situation gives reasonable grounds to the USCIS to believe that your marriage is fraudulent
- Lack of evidence showing that you have built a life with your spouse
- Lack of evidence supporting extenuating circumstances when filing a late application
Avoid these mistakes by providing enough evidence to support your claims and file the application by the deadline.
No Longer Married or Battered or Abused by Your Spouse
If you are no longer married to your spouse or have been battered or abused by your spouse, you can apply to waive the joint filing requirement and remove conditions on your green card without your spouse. In such cases, you may apply to remove the conditions any time after you become a conditional resident but before USCIS removes you from the country.
If your spouse dies, you can still remove the conditions on your green card. Along with filing Form I-751, you must include a copy of your spouse’s death certificate. You will also have to include considerable evidence showing that you and your spouse have shared a life together. The filing deadline differs for these types of applications. You can file the form anytime after the death of your spouse but before your green card expires. You don’t need to submit the form in the traditional 90-day window before the expiration of your green card.
Your Child’s Conditional Green Card
If your child got conditional resident status within 90 days of when you did, you can include in your application. However, your child must file a separate I-751 if your child received conditional resident status more than 90 days after you did.
If You Are Late In Applying To Remove The Conditions On Residence
If you fail to properly file Form I-751 within the 90-day period before your second anniversary as a conditional resident:
- USCIS will automatically terminate your conditional resident status and begin removal proceedings against you
- You will receive a notice from USCIS telling you that you have failed to remove the conditions
- You will receive a Notice to Appear at a hearing. At the hearing, you may review and rebut the evidence against you. However, you are responsible for proving that you complied with the requirements. The Department of Homeland Security is not responsible for verifying that you did not comply with the requirements.
You can file Form I-751 late if you can prove to the director of the appropriate service center a good cause for a late filing. Then, the director can approve the petition and restore your permanent resident status.
How to Get a Waiver of the Requirement to File a Joint Petition
If you cannot apply with your spouse to remove the conditions on your residence, you may request a waiver of the joint filing requirement. You may request a waiver of the joint petitioning requirements if:
- Your deportation or removal would result in extreme hardship
- You entered into your marriage in good faith and not to evade immigration laws, but the marriage ended by annulment or divorce, and you were not at fault for failing to file a timely petition
- You entered into your marriage in good faith and not to evade immigration laws, but during the marriage, you or your child were battered by, or subjected to extreme cruelty committed by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, and you were not at fault in failing to file a joint petition
USCIS allows requests for more than one waiver provision at a time. For example, you may request all three if your removal from the country would lead to extreme hardship, and you were also in an abusive relationship that ended in divorce. In this case, you would ask USCIS to consider all three circumstances when assessing your I-751.
If Termination Of Residency Will Lead To Extreme Hardship
You may request to waive the requirement of a joint petition if your removal from the U.S. back to your home country would place you in extreme hardship. USCIS will only assess extreme hardship evidence that took place after the original approval of your green card.
For example, your home country may begin to target a minority group you are part of, which could put you in grave danger if you return. For USCIS to consider this situation an extreme hardship, it must happen between your initial application for a marriage green card and your application to remove conditions.
If You Are In Divorce Proceedings But Are Not Yet Divorced
If you are still married but legally separated and/or in pending divorce or annulment proceedings, and:
- You filed a waiver request. USCIS will issue a request for evidence (RFE) specifically asking for a copy of the final divorce decree or annulment (if applicable).
- You filed a Form I-751 petition jointly. USCIS will issue a request for evidence (RFE) specifically asking for a copy of the final divorce decree or annulment and a statement that you would like your joint filing petition to be a waiver.
Upon receipt of the final divorce decree or annulment within the specified period, USCIS will amend the petition to indicate that you established eligibility for a waiver of the joint filing requirement based on the termination of the marriage.
Removal of Conditions Interview
USCIS might require an interview for removing conditions from a green card to demonstrate eligibility. This interview, if called, will closely mirror the interview that you and your spouse went through to obtain the marriage-based green card in the first place. You will need to answer an evaluation officer’s questions to help determine your eligibility. They will likely revolve around your relationship and, if necessary, your divorce or divorce proceedings. Prepare to answer personal questions to the best of your ability. Answering “I don’t know” or “I’m not comfortable answering” is better than lying. Not passing the interview could mean a problem with your green card, but fraud could cost you your green card entirely and possibly invoke a bar from future attempts to enter the U.S.
Investor Green Card
So far, we have only mentioned marriage-based green cards. However, the investor green card is another immigrant visa USCIS issues for an initial two years. The EB-5 is for those that invest between $500,000 and $1 million in a U.S. business in an eligible area. If you qualify, the green card you receive will only be valid for two years, and you will need to have the conditions removed if you want to remain in the U.S.
For the most part, the USCIS wants to see that your investment was instrumental in creating jobs for U.S. workers. You should keep this in mind when investing your funds. It may be difficult if your plan does not include creating jobs. If you have an EB-5 and want to remove the conditions, speak with your immigration attorney to see if your business and investment qualify for an unconditional green card.
Green Card Removal of Conditions FAQs
How long does it take to remove the conditions on a green card?
If you have completed I-751 and provided ample evidence to support your claims, the conditional green card removal processing time is anywhere from 11 to 19 months.
Does the two years of conditional green card count towards citizenship?
Yes, your two years with a conditional green card count towards citizenship. For example, if you were a conditional resident in the U.S. for several years, those years are years of permanent residence if you were to become a permanent resident at the end of them. Then those years of permanent residence would count when applying for citizenship.
Is it hard to remove conditions on a green card?
The removal process is generally straightforward. First, you must correctly fill out and file Form I-751 and all the relevant evidence to support your application. You must file the form within the period that applies to your situation, usually 90 days before your conditional green card expires. However, there are exceptions, which are stated above.
How much does it cost to remove conditions on a green card?
The green card condition removal fee is $595, plus you must also pay an $85 biometric service fee for each person applying to remove conditions on the same form.
Can I travel while removing conditions on my green card?
You can travel after you have filed your application to remove conditions to the USCIS. However, remember that you can only travel outside the U.S. if you have attended your biometrics and fingerprinting appointments.
How VisaNation Law Group Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Removing the conditions and navigating the nuances of immigration law makes it easy to make a simple mistake that costs you time, money, and possibly even your status. Ensure you have the best chances of approval by retaining the services of a qualified immigration attorney.
VisaNation Law Group’s attorneys specialize in helping people secure legal permanent resident status. Whether filing the initial petition or working with you to remove the conditions on your green card after a divorce, VisaNation Law Group’s attorneys will help every step of the way.
To get in touch with a green card attorney, you can fill out this contact form and schedule a consultation with our office today.