Green Card: What Is a Conditional Green Card?

Most green cards are granted permanently and must be renewed every 10 years. A conditional green card, however, is a temporary two-year resident status issued to immigrants who:

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes your status conditional because they want to make sure you didn’t get married to evade U.S. immigration laws.

Because recent marriages are more likely to be illegitimate, the USCIS grants a conditional green card with a two-year probationary period to these immigration applicants. 

immigration paperwork including form i-751
Immigration paperwork, including Form I-751. Some marriage-based green cards are temporary and conditional. Remove the conditions and convert to a permanent green card with Form I-751.

Can I Work on a Conditional Green Card?

Yes, a conditional permanent resident has essentially the same rights as a regular permanent resident. For example, you can work and do not have to apply separately for a work permit.

Can I Travel on a Conditional Green Card?

Yes. Conditional green card holders can travel in and out of the U.S. without applying for a special visa.

Can I Renew My Conditional Green Card?

You cannot renew conditional two-year green cards. Instead, you must apply to remove the conditions on your residence. This will allow you to get a 10-year permanent resident green card and stay in the U.S.

If you do not do this before your conditional residence expires, you may lose your residence status and endanger your future in the United States.

How Do I Remove Conditions from My Conditional Green Card?

To remove marriage-based conditions and apply for a permanent 10-year green card, you will need to file the USCIS Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. In addition, you will be required to pay a $595 government filing fee, plus $85 for your biometrics identification.

Along with your application, you will need to provide supporting documents that demonstrate the validity of your marriage. Documentation might include a joint lease, bank accounts, memberships, or the birth certificate of a child born to you as a couple. I-751 is a joint application and will need to be filed and signed by both partners.

Please note that the USCIS won’t let you file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, at this point. This is because you are not replacing an expired green card. Instead, you are applying to change your status and become a person who can permanently live in the U.S. 

If the USCIS approves your Form I-751 application, it will give you a full 10-year green card. You would then be able to replace or renew your card using Form I-90. 

How To Remove Conditions on Your 2-year Green Card

Conditional 2-year green cards CANNOT be renewed. The conditions on your immigration status must first be removed.

A family-based conditional permanent resident must file a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, during the 90 days before the card expires.

An investor/entrepreneur-based conditional permanent resident must file Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, during the 90 days before the card expires.

After your petition is approved, you will receive a 10-year green card.

Children of Conditional Green Card Holders

Conditional green card holders whose children received a conditional green card within 90 days of their own can be included on the same Form I-751 petition.

Children can also file a Form I-751 for themselves if they can’t joint-file with their parents for one of the following reasons:

  • They received their conditional green card more than 90 days after their parent(s)
  • Their conditional green card holder parent(s) died
  • They were abused by one of their parents

When Do I Have to File Form I-751?

If you are still married to your spouse, the two of you should jointly file Form I-751 sometime during the 90 days before your conditional residence lapses. However, if you are filing as an individual because you are no longer married, you can file Form I-751 at any time after you get your conditional green card.

In either case, it’s imperative to submit your Form I-751 before your conditional green card expires. People who don’t apply to remove the conditions on their green card will lose their legal status and will no longer be allowed to live in the U.S. 

The USCIS will mail you a notice when it has received your application. Your conditional green card will remain valid while the USCIS is processing your petition.

Can I Lose My Conditional Green Card if I Get Divorced?

If you get divorced while a conditional permanent resident, you won’t necessarily lose your green card. You can apply for a joint petition (I-751) requirement waiver. Doing this would allow you to file for condition removal as an individual. 

To obtain a waiver, you will need to show that you were married in good faith. For instance, you married your partner because you wanted to spend your life together, not to circumvent immigration laws. You will also need to verify one of the following:

  • Your husband or wife died.
  • Your marriage ended in divorce or annulment.
  • Your husband or wife subjected you to domestic violence, including physical or mental abuse.
  • You would suffer extreme hardship if you lost your green card and had to leave the U.S. For example, people who have lived most of their lives in the U.S., don’t speak their home country’s language, have no ties to their home country, or have a medical issue that doctors can’t treat in their home country.

It’s possible that this petition could be denied, especially if the USCIS finds you at fault for ending the marriage, for example, if you abandoned your spouse or cheated on them. If your waiver is denied, you will lose your permanent resident status and will need to leave the country.

FileRight.com Can Help You Remove Your Green Card Conditions

The I-751 application is 11 pages long and can be complex. Therefore, filing incorrectly could lead to significant issues, including expulsion from the U.S. 

If you need help filing to remove conditions from your green card, turn to FileRight.com. We provide online, do-it-yourself software and lawyer review services to help you complete your immigration application process accurately. Get started by taking the Eligibility Quiz today!

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