Changing from ‘Conditional’ to ‘Permanent’ Green Card
The majority of permanent residency cards issued in the United States are valid for 10 years before it requires renewal. However, there are exemptions. You can be issued a conditional green card that is good for two years if (1) you got your green card through marriage, or (2) you were married less than two years when you became a green card holder.
If you hold a temporary card and want to convert it into a permanent one, you need to file a “Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence” (Form I-751 or Form 1-829 for those who obtained their green cards through investment) 90 days before it expires. When you decide to fill out the paperwork, you must convince the Immigration Office that your petition is not fraudulent.
Determining Your Card Status
The first and easiest way to know if you have a non-permanent card is to look at its front part where it says “Valid from” and “Card Expires”. You have a conditional green card if the gap is approximately two years.
Another way is to look at the category. If you see the code “CR1”, this is another indicator that your card is temporary.
Removing Green Card Conditions
You are eligible to apply for removal of conditions on your permanent residence if you fall under any of the following categories:
- Married to the same spouse that gave you a green card 2 years ago
- A child who, for a valid reason, cannot be included in his or her parents’ application;
- Surviving spouse in a marriage entered in good faith
- Someone who entered into a marriage in good faith but ended through divorce or annulment; or
- Someone who entered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were subjected to extreme hardship by your U.S.-citizen or permanent-resident spouse.
Avoiding Mistakes In Your Application
Meeting the eligibility requirements does not guarantee that your application will get approved. This is why where working with an experienced immigration attorney becomes pivotal. If you miss anything on your application and it gets denied, you will receive a letter of explanation, but you will also be required to appear in immirgation court to face removal proceedings.
To avoid that scenario from happening, immigration lawyers thoroughly check the eligibility and paperwork of their client before filing for change of status.
Based on Andres Mejer Law immigration attorneys’ experience, below are the most common mistakes made by individuals when applying for removal of conditions:
- Insufficient evidence for a legitimate or Bona Fide Marriage. To prove this you need to show birth certificates of any children born to the marriage, evidence of shared finances like bank accounts and credit cards, proof of living together like mortgages or utility bills, and evidence of life together as a couple such as letters from friends or photos.
- Filing late. If you don’t file on time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will send you a notice to appear and put you into removal proceedings.
- Criminal Conduct. If you filed your petition and then plead guilty to a serious crime, your application can be denied.
Normally, you only need to wait for at least two years before you can apply to become a permanent resident. However, several circumstances may occur, such as divorce or separation, become a widow or widower, among others.
Although the Form I-751 is a joint petition between you and your spouse, it is possible to file on your own provided you can present:
- Good faith waiver – only divorced (and not separated) individuals can file for this. You need to include the divorce decree and show that you married in good faith.
- Proof you’re a surviving spouse – If your spouse unfortunately died, you must present the death certificate and proof you married in good faith.
- Evidence that you’re a battered spouse – Show that you (or your child) suffered extreme cruelty by your spouse using police reports, medical records, photos of abuse, or restraining orders; along with proof that you entered the marriage in good faith.
If your partner has accused you that you married just to become a legal permanent resident, then you must fight for your rights. Consult your case with an immigration lawyer to determine the best course of action. The same advice applies to victims of abuse who are accused by the abuser. Working with a good attorney can help get the facts straight.
If you want to know more about the process of removing conditions on your temporary card, call Andres Mejer Law today to schedule your case evaluation. Our immigration experts will be happy to give you legal advice and to discuss how much the process costs and how long it takes.