What Is a Conditional Green Card?

Every year, millions of people apply for an immigrant visa or apply to adjust their status. Both processes, if completed, result in a green card, which signifies your lawful permanent residence.

The way you obtain a green card varies depending on many different factors, such as your eligibility, preference category, current status, and location. But the process and requirements aren’t the only factors that may differ. If you are an immigrant investor or your visa is based on a new marriage, you may receive a different type of green card called conditional permanent residence.

Normally, a green card simply must be renewed every ten years. But conditional green cards are only valid for two years. Here is what you need to know if you receive this type of green card.

What to Do if You Are a Conditional Permanent Resident

While a green card may be the last step of the immigration journey for some, a conditional green card requires an additional step: removing conditions on permanent residence. To properly complete this step, you will need to understand why you received a conditional green card in the first place.

You may have received a conditional green card if:

  • Your permanent resident status was based on marriage, but you were married to your sponsor for less than 2 years. USCIS gives conditional green cards to the fiancé(e)s and newly married spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents so an adjudicating officer can check a second time for evidence of marriage fraud (i.e. when a foreign citizen marries a U.S. citizen or LPR solely for an immigration benefit). As such, divorcing your spouse before you remove the conditions on your permanent residence may suggest to USCIS that your marriage was not bona fide.
  • Your permanent resident status was based on investment. You will need to include evidence showing that you met your investment requirements. Specifically, you will need to have sustained your investment through the duration of your residence in the U.S., and the enterprise you invested in must have created 10 full-time positions.

Issues like divorce or a troubled commercial enterprise (for a newly married individual or an investor, respectively) will not automatically prevent you from obtaining a regular green card. However, you will need professional assistance to ensure you include the appropriate documentation and substantial evidence of your qualifications.

To renew a regular green card after ten years, you would use Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. For the condition removal process, however, you will use either Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence, or Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions. You will need to file your petition during the 90-day window just before your conditional green card expires.

What Happens if Your Petition Is Denied?

Unfortunately, you cannot simply renew or change your status if USCIS denies your petition to remove conditions on your permanent residence. Once the petition is denied, you will no longer possess a valid green card, and you will begin to accumulate unlawful presence and may be deported. As such, submitting a complete, error-free form is critical, as is avoiding any factor that may lead the adjudicating officer to believe you committed fraud.

Let Our Firm Support Your Journey

Every step of the permanent residence application process is filled with potential pitfalls. With so much at stake, our team at Gambacorta Law urges you to let us help you accomplish your goals. We can inform you of your rights and options, guide you through the application process, help you prepare for interviews, and even file appeals, if possible or applicable. You don’t need to go through this process alone—especially when our attorneys are just a phone call away.

Schedule your initial consultation by calling (847) 443-9303 or contacting us online today.