How to Remove the Conditions on Your Green Card
If you’re a conditional permanent resident in the United States and your conditional green card is about to expire, it cannot be renewed.
You’ll have to file paperwork to remove the conditions on your status as a permanent resident.
Here’s how to do it, whether your green card is based on marriage, or on being an immigrant investor.
Removing Conditions on Your Marriage-Based Green Card
A marriage-based green card may come with a two-year condition. Here’s why:
- You were married for less than two years at the time that your green card was granted, and you must prove that your marriage is genuine near the end of the two-year conditional period.
- The conditions function as a deterrent for people who might marry simply to gain immigration benefits, which is considered a form of marriage fraud.
If conditions aren’t removed before the two-year period is up, your green card will expire.
How Do You Remove the Two-Year Condition?
To remove the two-year condition on your marriage-based green card so that you can receive a 10-year green card, you and your spouse must first file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 90 days of the expiration date of your conditional green card. You’ll also have to:
- Submit documentation and evidence to USCIS that shows that your marriage is genuine. (Any evidence you present in a foreign language needs to be translated into English, and the translation must be performed and certified by a competent translator who can confirm that it is complete and accurate)
- Prove to USCIS in an interview that your marriage is real, and not a sham
What Evidence and Documentation Can Help Prove That Your Marriage is Real?
To help demonstrate to USCIS that you entered into your marriage in good faith, and that the union between you and your spouse is genuine, you can present a variety of documents, including these:
- A deed indicating joint ownership (or a joint lease) of a property where both you and your spouse reside
- A car title listing both of your names
- Bank statements, or other financial statements, from a joint account
- Medical bills that show both of your names and shared address
- Photo documentation, including your wedding, birthdays, holiday celebrations, and vacations
- Birth certificates for children born during your marriage, or adoption certificates
- An insurance policy listing the other spouse as the beneficiary
How Can an Affidavit Help Prove a Bona Fide Marriage?
If you don’t have a lot of evidence that chronicles your marriage, I-751 Affidavits (in addition to any of the previously-listed documents and evidence) can be effective in helping to prove a genuine union.
These affidavits are statements, provided by your friends and family, explaining that they have witnessed a real marriage.
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What if You Get Divorced Before it’s Time to Remove Conditions?
If you get divorced before the time comes to remove the two-year conditions on your green card, but you want to continue to live in the U.S. and file to remove conditions on your card at the appointed time, you can do so. You’ll still file Form I-751, but you will have to get approved for a waiver to exempt you from having to file the form jointly with a spouse. You can apply for a waiver under certain circumstances, including:
- A divorce or annulment
- If you or your child were battered by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse
- If you or your child experienced extreme cruelty at the hands of your spouse
When it’s time to remove conditions on your green card, whether you’re happily married or divorced, any evidence you can include with Form I-751 to prove a bona fide marriage, or to explain a marriage that ended in divorce but started out in good faith, will move you closer to removing conditions on your permanent residency.
If your marriage has dissolved you may consider including a written statement with your submission explaining your reason for the divorce, including any physical or emotional abuse inflicted by your former partner. Documents pertaining to things like marriage counseling, or records of criminal proceedings, can back up your claims.
In either possible outcome of your marriage, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with an immigration attorney. A skilled attorney will advise you on all of the appropriate documentation and evidence you’ll need to present to USCIS so that you can have conditions on your green card removed.
Investor-Based Green Cards
People who make certain business investments in the United States may be eligible to apply for a green card. If your permanent resident status is based on a capital investment in the U.S., as is the case with the EB-5 green card, your residency will be conditional for two-years.
EB-5 Green Cards
Investors who are in the United States on EB-5 visas are people who have met its requirements, which include making a capital investment between $900,000 and $1.8 million in a new U.S.-based commercial enterprise that creates or preserves a minimum of 10 full-time jobs, or more, within a two-year period (these investment figures were recently adjusted upward to in order to account for inflation, according to USCIS).
After an investor is granted an EB-5 visa, they can apply to adjust their status to obtain a green card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
If approved, they—and derivative family members included on their application—will receive a conditional green card that lasts for two years.
How to Remove Conditions on an Investor Green Card
Before the two-year conditional period ends, an investor will need to file paperwork to remove conditions on their conditional green card in order to get their permanent green card—and do so within 90 days of its expiration. They must file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, and provide documentation regarding the status of their business investment, including:
- The current amount of capital that has been invested
- The number of jobs that have been created (at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers)
If USCIS approves the investor’s petition, the conditions will be removed from their status as a permanent resident, as well as from dependents included in their petition, and all will receive a permanent green card that will not need to be renewed for 10 years.
Extension of Validity Dates for Conditional Green Cards
For permanent residents who file to remove conditions on their marriage-based green cards (Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence), and permanent resident investors who file to remove conditions on their investor-based green cards (Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status), USCIS has extended the validity of these green cards for 48 months beyond their dates of expiration. The extension is intended to compensate for an increase in the processing times for the two forms, USCIS says.
For Form I-829 this change went into effect on January 11, 2023, and for Form I-751 the extension was enacted on January 25, 2023.
When these forms are filed, receipt notices sent out by USCIS indicate the 48-month extension. Your receipt notice, together with your expired green card, will serve as proof of your status as a conditional permanent resident in the U.S.
To understand how these changes may impact your immigration status, including your employment authorization and ability to travel abroad, it’s best to talk to your immigration attorney. A skilled attorney will explain all of the nuances involved with these kinds of adjustments, and how they affect you.
Do You Need to Speak With an Attorney About Removing the Conditions on Your Marriage-Based or Investor-Based Green Card?
If it’s time to remove the conditions on your green card, we can help. To start the process, contact Warren Law Firm to schedule a consultation.
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