A conditional green card (conditional U.S. residence) is valid for two years, at the end of which getting a permanent green card (permanent U.S. residence) is contingent upon the person fulfilling specific conditions and successfully filing an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Conditional green cards are issued to two types of immigrants, including those who applied for green cards based on:
Whether you’re a conditional green card holder or a permanent resident, you have certain responsibilities in order to maintain your status. You must, for example:
If you violate any of the above responsibilities, your conditional green card can be revoked, in which case you would be removed from the United States.
If the immigration authorities discover that you didn’t deserve your immigration status in the first place, they can take steps to revoke your conditional residence.
For example, if you are alien entrepreneur who obtained your investment capital through illegal means (such as through the sale of illegal drugs), and the immigration authorities find out about it, your conditional resident status may be revoked. (See 8 C.F.R. Section 216.3.)
Or, if you got your conditional residence based on marriage and the qualifying marriage was a sham to get a green card or has been judicially annulled or terminated (other than through the death of your spouse); or you paid the U.S. citizen to get you a green card, your conditional resident status may be revoked. You may request a hearing to review this determination. (See Section 216 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.).)
Like any green card holder, you can be removed from the U.S. if you do something that makes you deportable under Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.), such as committing a crime or espionage or engaging in terrorist or subversive activity.
Also, if you leave the U.S. for more than 180 days (around six months) and try to return, you can be found inadmissible. (You might remember that you had to overcome the grounds of inadmissibility when first applying for the green card, such as proving that you didn’t have any communicable disease of public health significance, weren’t likely to become a public charge, and again, hadn’t committed significant crimes.)
During the ninety days before the two-year anniversary of the date on which you received your conditional lawful resident status, you must apply to have the conditions removed. The application process depends on your status:
Failure to file the appropriate application by the deadline will result in you losing your conditional green card.
Of course, even if you do file the application, you must succeed in convincing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you deserve to convert from conditional to permanent residence. You’ll need to carefully fill out the form and attach convincing documentation to prove your case.
With a marriage-based application, your main concern will be showing that you and your spouse are still married and sharing a life, and that the marriage is not a fake. Focus on supplying documents like shared lease or mortgages, bank accounts, children’s birth certificates, and so forth. Don’t just send in the same materials that USCIS has seen before. Gather more recent materials. If you're separated, divorced, or your spouse has died, your case isn't hopeless, but you'll need to apply for a waiver. (Get an attorney's help with this.)
If you have been granted an EB-5 visa, you will need to show that you followed through by making the required investment and providing employment to ten or more U.S. workers. For example, you should provide audited financial statements, business receipts, payroll records, bank statements, business licenses, tax returns, and Form I-9s.
Consult with an experienced U.S. immigration attorney to learn more about keeping your conditional green card and eventually removing the conditions and becoming a permanent resident.