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A Guide to Conditional Permanent Residency

Posted by Gutierrez Law Firm on August 14, 2013

Section 216 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) identifies the steps that must be completed to remove the conditions on a permanent resident status that was issued on the basis of a marriage that is less than two years old. U.S. immigration law can be very complicated. In this post, we provide a general overview of the procedures associated with the removal of green card conditions, but it’s important to realize that the assistance of a knowledgeable legal professional can make the process a great deal easier.

Conditional Permanent Residency

Permanent status based on marriage is conditional because the immigration authorities want to ensure that the marriage is legitimate and not an attempt to circumvent U.S. immigration law. A conditional permanent resident may apply to have the conditions removed under the following circumstances:

  • The green card holder must still be married to the permanent resident or U.S. citizen after two years.
  • Children who received conditional status at the same time or within 90 days of the applicant may be included in the application.
  • There is a valid reason that a child was not included in the application to have conditional status removed.
  • The applicant is a widower or widow as the result of a good faith marriage.
  • The applicant is a spouse or child who suffered physical, verbal or emotional abuse or hardship that was the result of a good faith marriage.
  • The applicant will experience significant hardship if conditional permanent residence status is terminated.

How to Apply

Both the conditional status resident and their permanent resident status or U.S. citizen spouse must apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have the conditions removed. Applications must be filed within 90 days prior to the second anniversary of receiving conditional permanent residence status. The anniversary date and the expiration date listed on the applicant’s green card are one and the same. An application should be submitted to USCIS using Form I-751. A failure to file a completed I-751 within the specified application period will result in the loss of conditional permanent residence status and the initiation of removal proceedings.

A conditional permanent resident can apply to have the joint filing requirement waived if the marriage ended in divorce. The waiver may be submitted at any time after being awarded conditional permanent residency but prior to removal from the country. Children who received conditional status more than 90 days after the applicant must submit a separate I-751 application.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is difficult to interpret. Therefore, the proper preparation of an I-751 application can alleviate stress and substantially improve the likelihood of success.

To talk to an immigration lawyer about your case, dial 210.225.7114 and request a free consultation with the Gutierrez Law Firm.