Green Cards

Conditional Residence: Removal of Conditions

Please be aware that under U.S law – specifically, sections 201(b)(2)(A)(i) and 216 of the Immigration & Nationality Act, if you apply for permanent residence based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, and you have been married for less than 2 years old at the time of your interview, if the case is approved, the foreign spouse will get Conditional Residence.

Conditional Permanent Residence is only valid for two years, and unlike Lawful Permanent Residence, the status itself will expire, not just the card.

You and your spouse will have an obligation to file another petition, called an I-751 Petition to Remove  Conditions on Residence, within the 90 days preceding the 2-year anniversary of the conditional green card. Although USCIS has recently started sending out reminders for those required to file I-751 petitions, you must file any change of address timely through the online AR-11 form and by calling the USCIS 1-800 number, so as to continue receiving mail from USCIS. Missing the filing deadline for your petition to remove conditions on residence means losing the right to work and travel abroad, and might also mean ending up in removal (deportation) proceedings, so it is VERY important to keep USCIS and your attorney advised of any address changes.

The financial support obligations of the sponsor, set forth in the I-864 Affidavit of Support, are a legally binding contract and remain in force through and beyond the removal of condition process. Those obligations survive divorce, or death of the sponsor.

If a marriage does not survive the two-year conditional period, the I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence may be filed solo by the foreign spouse, requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement, but only IF there is sufficient evidence to prove that it was a bona-fide marriage, which was not entered into to get a green card. This situation should be always be discussed with counsel before filing – it is not a good idea to proceed with a divorce, or even file a response to divorce pleadings, until you have consulted with an immigration attorney about how this may impact your status, and your ability to remove the conditions on residence.

Feel free to contact Karin Wolman for more information about conditional residence laws.

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