Removing The "Temporary" Conditions On Your Green Card

Learn about the process of removing the temporary condition on your green card based on marriage or business.

Two categories of foreign nationals seeking U.S. green cards (lawful permanent residence) might be granted a status called "conditional residence" before receiving permanent green cards. These categories include would-be immigrants who either:

  • applied for a green card based on marriage, whose marriage was less than two years old at the time the person either entered the U.S. with the immigrant visa given to them by an overseas U.S. consulate, or was approved for residence after adjusting status within the U.S. at a USCIS office, or
  • applied for a green card as an investor, in category EB-5 of employment-based green cards

In either case, the conditional green card will last only two years. Up to 90 days before the end of that two-year period, the immigrant must take action to "remove the conditions" and apply to become permanent residents.

What It Means to Be a Conditional Resident

A conditional green card holder has all the rights and responsibilities of a green card holder -- it's just that their status comes to an end after two years, unless they take action and are approved for permanent residency. In fact, if and when the person applies for U.S. citizenship, which requires waiting until you have held a green card for a certain number of years (usually five, but three for people married to and living with U.S. citizens all that time), the two years as a conditional residence will be counted as if they were permanent residence.

The reason for the two-year expiration date on an immigrant's status in these two categories is that the immigration authorities want a second look at the case, to see whether either the marriage or the business has stood the test of time and proven that the immigrant qualified for approval in the first place.

A conditional green card based on marriage will generally be revoked unless both members of the couple participate in proving that the marriage is ongoing and still demonstrably bona fide (though waivers are available if the immigrant must apply alone due to death, divorce, or similar circumstances).

Likewise, a conditional green card based on investment will be revoked if the investor has failed, over the last two years, to make the required investment -- $1 million ($500,000 in a USCIS designated regional center) or more in the U.S. business -- take an active role in the business, and provide full-time employment to ten or more U.S. workers.

If the petition to remove the conditions is denied, then the immigrant loses status and is expected to leave the United States.

Marriage-Based Conditional Green Card: How to Apply to Remove Conditions

Marriage-based conditional green card holders must apply to remove the conditions by filing USCIS Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence. For more information on preparing and submitting this application, including how to gather persuasive documentation of your "bona fide" marriage, see our articles on completing the I-751 form and required documents.

If, however, the conditional green card holder's U.S. spouse will not participate in the process, then you'll need to find out if you qualify for a waiver of the joint-filing requirement and how to successfully apply.

The completed Form I-751 must be submitted to the USCIS office having jurisdiction over your place of residence along with evidence of your status as a conditional resident and your marriage. You must pay a filing fee ($595 as of 2017) and a biometrics (fingerprinting) fee ($85 as of 2017).

Investment-Based Conditional Green Card: How to Apply to Remove Conditions

If your conditional green card is based on investment, you must file Form I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions. You must submit the completed Form I-829 along with evidence of your status as a conditional green card holder and your investment by mail to a USCIS Service Center. You must also pay a filing fee ($3,750 as of 2017) and a biometric fee ($85 as of 2017). If you can afford to make an investment of this sort, then you can most likely afford to hire an attorney to help you through this complicated process.

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