A common path to citizenship is to get a green card through a marriage of a US citizen. With this, the foreign national spouse is allowed to work and live in the United States.
If you go through this process, you’ll be counted as a “conditional permanent resident.” This is denoted by a “CR1” mark on your card. Don’t panic. The conditions don’t mean anything bad. You can still enjoy the benefits of being a green card holder with your conditional permanent residence.
The condition for these green cards is that they are only valid for two years. There are certain steps you have to take as given by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In this article, we’ll go through the process of removing the conditions on your green card. If you need any help regarding your permanent residency or immigrant visa, get in touch with our knowledgeable New Jersey immigration attorney
What the Conditions Are For
The conditions exist primarily to help USCIS prevent fraudulent marriages made only for a foreign alien to acquire US citizenship. What can happen is that an immigrant can convince a US citizen to marry them, go through the process to become a lawful permanent resident, then separate once they get their permanent resident card.
To lessen these incidents, the agency began introducing these conditions to people’s permanent resident status to deter those who’d want to abuse the system. USCIS hopes that the waiting period of several years will discourage dishonest individuals from getting a green card through marriage.
In short, the conditional residence process ensures that only bona fide marriages can allow people to get a green card. Much of the steps required are there to demonstrate to the agency that your relationship is legitimate.
How to Remove the Conditions
Form I-751 is the Petition to Remove Conditions. This lets you get a permanent green card without an expiration date.
You have to submit this petition within 90 days before your conditional green card expires. If your submission is too early, then you’ll just get it back. If you file it too late, chances are that your petition will be denied. It’s very difficult to defend a late submission and more often than not, it will not work out in your favor.
You and your spouse will have to submit evidence about the legitimacy of your relationship. This evidence is different and must be more recent than the documentation you provided for your green card.
Evidence you can submit for your petition to remove conditions can include:
- Evidence of new children;
- Recent photos of the couple;
- Joint titles to assets that were acquired after the approval of the green card;
- Joint bank accounts that are used even after the latest green card application.
There is a possibility that you’ll receive Requests for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS. Reply to these RFEs thoroughly and immediately. There should not be any doubt about the validity of your marriage. An experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate through the process to prove to the US that your love and your relationship are genuine. Call our New Jersey office now for immigration help!
Usually, the next step after you submit your petition is your interview with a USCIS officer. After you submit your petition, you’ll have to wait for your interview. You’ll be provided with the time and place that you and your partner should go for the interview.
It usually takes at least 12 months before you get any information about the next steps. The pandemic has only slowed down the already clogged-up processing for USCIS services.
Now, if you have correctly filed Form I-751 and your waiting time exceeds the 90-day threshold, you will be notified about an extension of the validity of your green card. This lets you go about your daily life in the US while USCIS decides on your application.
Is the Interview Required?
It used to be that the submitted evidence is sufficient for USCIS to determine whether they can remove your conditions. However, since December 10, 2018, USCIS requires most applicants to complete an interview before removing the 2-year condition. USCIS can waive this requirement if the evidence you’ve provided confirms your authenticity but don’t bet on it as it doesn’t happen in practice
What Goes on in the Interview?
This interview is essentially the same as the one you had to go through for your conditional green card. If you pass the interview, you should get a prompt decision.
Your green card will be mailed to you, this time with no conditions and no expiration!
This interview is key to ensure that you can spend your life happily ever after in the United States with your spouse. It’s important to get the help of a skilled green card attorney to get through this matter. Call our New Jersey immigration office now to ensure the success of your interview!
What if my Application Fails?
Two things can happen if your application gets rejected.
You can receive a Notice to Appear. This usually leads to deportation proceedings. This usually happens if USCIS thinks that your marriage is a sham.
You may also receive a chance to file Form I-751 again. USCIS does this when the applicant does not provide enough evidence to support their petition, but not too little as to provoke suspicion of fraud.
Failure to Submit
If you do not file your petition to remove conditions, then your green card expires two years after it was issued. You’ll likely get a visit from an immigration official or receive a summons. This usually results in you being placed in removal proceedings.
Even if you’re not immediately contacted by immigration, you’ll still be counted as “unlawfully present.” This means that you can be barred from reentering the US for years if you leave then attempt to come back.
If you’re having trouble with your Form I-751, you can ask our experienced New Jersey immigration attorney for help! Contact our law office now to ease your immigration troubles.
Circumstances that Affect Removal of Conditions
There are plenty of situations that can affect your marriage. Your marriage may not work out, one way or another. If that’s the case, you can still push through with your petition to remove conditions. Keep in mind that these situations might make USCIS suspicious of you.
Death of the Spouse
If your spouse passes away, the requirement to file the petition jointly and the 90-day threshold are waived. As long as you are in the US, you can file your Form I-751. Remember to include evidence of your marriage and their death certificate.
If the spouse turns out to be abusive, you may also waive the requirement to file jointly. However, you do have to wait for the 90-day threshold to submit the petition unless you get divorced. Do not forget to include evidence of the abuse, which can include: testimony from hospitals or shelters, pictures of injuries, or records of communication.
You can file a petition to waive the joint filing requirement should you and your spouse get divorced. You can also forgo the 90-day threshold and submit it as soon as the divorce is finalized.
This will usually work as long as your ex-partner was the one who caused problems in the marriage or was the one who filed for divorce. It’s highly unlikely that your conditions will be removed if you sought out the divorce.
You have to include the divorce papers when you submit your petition. To help your case, including any evidence that you attempted to save the marriage.
Our compassionate immigration lawyer can help you if you encounter any difficulties in your immigration application due to your marriage. Don’t hesitate to call our New Jersey immigration office for help!
Removing the conditions on your green card is important so you can continue to live and work in the United States. Any mistake can cause trouble for the application, delay your approval, and may even cause you to go through removal proceedings. Our skilled immigration attorneys at Andres Mejer Law can help make you a lawful permanent resident and secure your right to reside in the US.
If you need an immigration lawyer, call our office. If we can’t help you, we won’t take your money. We can’t help you if you don’t call us. Contact our New Jersey law firm today to get your free immigration diagnosis!