As a conditional permanent resident, you are entitled to receive a green card which is valid for a period of two years. However, in order to legally remain a resident in the United States after that two-year period, you must file a petition to remove the conditions in the 90 days before the expiration of your green card. In this guide, we’ll explore exactly how to renew green card after 2 years and the implications if you fail to do so.
What is a Permanent Resident Card
A permanent resident card, as the name implies, is a document which serves as proof of your permanent resident status in the country. While some permanent resident cards (green cards) do not indicate an expiration date, the vast majority have a validity period of ten years.
Conditional permanent resident cards differ in the sense that they’re valid for only two years. These are typically issued in marriage cases when the marriage is less than 2 years old. On a less-common basis, conditional permanent resident cards are issued to entrepreneurs that obtained permanent resident status through the EB-5 green card category.
This time is usually seen as a temporary probationary period with the intention of testing whether your method of entering the U.S. was a legitimate one.
Why Wasn’t I Issued a Lawful Permanent Resident Card?
Many people try to take advantage of the marriage-based visa system by marrying fraudulently. Conditional permanent resident cards are issued to these types of marriages to ensure that they are bona fide. On that same note, some fraudulent entrepreneurs fabricate their business in order to enter the U.S., this process is to deter those that would abuse this system.
It’s vital to ensure that your card is valid at all times to ensure that you can prove your legality in the U.S. If not, you could seriously jeopardize your ability to work or travel in the country. For that reason, it is important that you remove the conditions on your status and get a 2 year green card renewal as soon as possible.
It is important to realize that this is not technically a renewal. Your conditional green card cannot be renewed. Instead, the conditions are removed and a new 10-year green card is issued. This distinction is important because the process of removing conditions is different than the process of renewing a 10-year green card. You will need to demonstrate the authenticity of your case.
How to Remove Conditions
As a conditional permanent resident, you need to file a petition in order to remove the conditions 90 days prior to your conditional card expiring in order to remove your conditions.
What happens if I don’t file on time?
If you do not file within those 90 days to renew your green card after 2 years, then your permanent resident status will be revoked. This means that you won’t be in legal status, otherwise known as “out of status”.
Because being considered “out of status” may result in serious consequences such as a temporary bar from re-entry into the U.S., meeting this deadline is very important. In certain instances, a late filing may be allowed with the help of a qualified immigration attorney.
Documents to Renew Green Card After 2 Years
As a conditional resident, in order to renew your green card after 2 years, you must submit:
- Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (for Green Cards that are obtained through marriage)
- Both you and your spouse must apply together in order to remove the conditions of your residence.
- If you are no longer married to your spouse due to abuse or battery then you can apply to waive the joint filing requirement. It’s advised to consult legal help if you find yourself in this situation.
- Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on a Green Card obtained through financial investment in a U.S. business.
How Do I Prove That My Marriage is Legitimate?
In order to successfully have your conditions removed on a marriage-based green card, you will need to show that your marriage is bona fide and that it was not fraudulent with the purpose of circumventing immigration law. Here are some things that can help prove your case:
- Having a child – while having children together is not mandatory by any means, it can be used to support the legitimacy of your marriage. You will need a copy of the birth certificate.
- Property Ownership – submitting copies of deeds, mortgage agreements, contracts, bills for property tax, or account statements can show that you have purchased property together, which helps substantiate your relationship in the eyes of the USCIS. You can also include a lease agreement if you are renting or the title of a car if there is joint ownership.
- Finances – most married couples join their finances together. Submitting evidence of this union can help you case. Bank statements, credit statements, loans, or tax returns can all be useful here. Also, showing that you have joint insurance is helpful.
- Photos – submitting pictures of things like the wedding, engagement, vacations, events, or family gatherings can go a long way toward proving the authenticity of your marriage.
What if I am No Longer Married
Life does not always go as planned, so there are often instances where marriages end before the 2-year conditional period is over. This does not necessarily nullify your green card, but you will need to show that, regardless of the means of termination, you entered into the marriage in good faith and without the intention of committing fraud. Through this, you may be able to obtain a waiver that allows someone other than the sponsor to remove the conditions.
Here are some circumstances that we have encountered when someone is trying to remove the conditions on a 2-year green card:
- Your spouse has died, but you got married in good faith
- The marriage ended in divorce or annulment, but the marriage was in good faith
- Your spouse created extreme hardship or was physically abusive to you or your child, but the initial marriage was made in good faith.
If your divorce is in the process of taking place, you will need to wait until the divorce is finalized. As the beneficiary, you are a conditional resident. Therefore you cannot file an I-751, your sponsor must. If your sponsor is unable or unwilling to do so, then you must qualify under one of the above circumstances in order to have your conditions removed. In any of these cases, it is important to have an experienced immigration attorney look over your situation to help you support your case. This is especially true if you plan to use the extreme hardship case because those are heavily scrutinized.
What is the Processing Time?
Once the USCIS receives your petition, you should receive a notice of receipt in the mail about 2 or 3 weeks after you file. This receipt is not approval and it does not renew your green card.
A few weeks later, you should be given a notice that includes your biometric service appointment date. When you go to this appointment, your fingerprints will be recorded and your background will be checked. Be sure to bring a form of photo identification such as a passport or driver’s license to your appointment.
Up to four months after your biometrics appointment, you may be asked to go in for an interview with an immigration officer to determine if your marriage or business is bona fide. This requirement is sometimes waived if your petition makes it apparent that your intentions are legitimate.
If your petition using either one of these channels is successful then the conditional status of your green card will be removed and USCIS will issue you a 10-year green card. If your petition is denied, then the USCIS should send you the reasons for the denial by mail.
What about RFEs?
If the USCIS sends you a Request for Evidence (RFE), then that means that something on your petition raised their suspicions. This could be the result of insufficient or conflicting evidence.
If you do receive an RFE, you have a window of time in which to respond. Missing this window could result in the denial of your petition to renew your green card after 2 years. To make sure that a sufficient response is given within the timeframe, bring your RFE to your immigration attorney as soon as possible.
How Much Will It Cost?
Like with many forms that are filed with the USCIS, a filing fee is put into place for each submitted iteration of the form.
- I-751 basic filing fee: $595 as of the USCIS’s new fee schedule released on December 23, 2016. To reiterate, this form is only if you need to renew your green card after 2 years of marriage.
- I-826 basic filing fee: $3,750. This form is only relevant if you are an entrepreneur that needs to renew your green card after two years.
- Biometric service fee: $85. Biometrics are required for all I-751 and I-829 submissions.
Is Your Petition Approved?
If your petition was approved the good news is that you’ll be sent a new permanent resident card which will be valid for a period of ten years. You will not necessarily need to file Form I-90.
My Card Has No Expiration Date
In some cases, your card may not have an expiration date printed on the front of it. If that’s the case then you have an old version and most of these are no longer valid. USCIS strongly recommends replacing this with the newest card available. Contact our attorneys to learn the best way to replace it.
How Is This Different From Renewing?
When you renew a 10-year unconditional green card, you will file the I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. Note that the operative word is “replace”. This form is used primarily when a green card is expiring. However, conditional residents and unconditional residents alike often use the I-90 to replace any green card if it is stolen, lost, or damaged, if it has incorrect information on it, if the USCIS issued you a green card but you never received it, or if your personal information has changed.
So, ultimately, you cannot technically “renew” a conditional temporary green card. It requires a different set of forms, different fees, and different supporting evidence. Instead, you are removing the conditions on your green card.
How SGM Law Group Can Help
Looking to renew green card after 2 years? Do you need to renew your permanent resident card after 10 years? The immigration lawyers at SGM Law Group have years of experience in many aspects of employment green cards, marriage green cards, and investment-based permanent resident cases.
We offer comprehensive consultations to explore the details of your case and then determine the appropriate solution. Again, helping our clients renew their conditional green cards is something we’re quite familiar with and can begin the process immediately. The most important aspect to keep in mind is the expiration date because it adds additional challenges into the equation when trying to renew your card after the expiration period.
Have additional questions about how to renew green card after 2 years in the United States? Fill out this contact form to schedule your consultation today.