What Is A Conditional Permanent Resident Card? - When a green card is obtained based on marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse (husband or wife) and the couple is married less than two years the green card is a conditional card.

The conditional green card is like a probation period for 2 years during which the couple builds a record of their married relationship together. At the end of that period the couple files jointly to remove the condition and sends proof of their good faith marriage.

One of the reasons the immigration service issues the conditional green card that expires in two years is to prevent fraudulent marriages. Therefore the couple must prove their good faith marriage.

How Long Does The Conditional Green Card Last And What Do To Do At The Expiration? - As mentioned above the conditional green card is valid for two years. To keep the green card status (remain a permanent resident) a conditional green card holder must (A) petition to remove the conditions on residence jointly with his/her spouse using form I-751, (B) attach evidence of the good faith marriage (examples are listed below in this article) and (C) this must be done within the 90 day period before the expiration date on the card.

Can You Renew The Conditional Green Card? - The conditional green card cannot be renewed; instead the conditions must be removed. If the conditions are not removed the green card will be terminated along with all the rights that come with the green card including but not limited to living and working in the United States and travelling back to the U.S.A. after foreign travel.

What Kind Of Evidence Is Submitted As Proof Of The Good Faith Marriage? - Below is a list of example of the evidence that may be submitted with the removal of condition petition. Not all such evidence required but the more documented proof you have the better easier it will be for the immigration services to approve the case. The following are some documentation and other evidence that may be submitted with the petition:
  1. A copy of the front and back of the permanent resident card (green card);
  2. Two passport photographs;
  3. A lease or mortgage showing joint occupancy and/or ownership of the couples communal residence,
  4. Financial records showing joint ownership of assets and joint responsibility for liabilities, such as:
      A) Joint savings and checking accounts,
      B) Joint federal and state tax returns,
      C) Joint insurance policies or policies with the other spouse as the beneficiary,
      D) Joint utility bills,
      E) Joint installment loans (Example: Credit Cards),
      F) Other joint loans,
      G) Documents/bills/accounts that are on one name but go to you same address,
      H) Any other documents showing your life together,

    * Please Note the most effective evidence will start from the time that the marriage began up until the present.

  5. About 20 photographs traveling together, at the wedding, with family, friends etc. (a good tip is to add places, names and dates on the back of Photos.
  6. Other proof you consider relevant to establish your marriage was entered in "good faith" (such as birth certificates of children of the marriage, birthday cards, holiday cards, love letters etc.).
  7. At least 2-6 affidavits from friends/colleagues/neighbors that know both of you and have personal knowledge of your legitimate marriage and relationship "good faith marriage" (affidavits from family are good but are considered extra). Submit the original affidavits signed and notarized from each of your friends/colleagues/neighbors.
  8. A copy of your marriage certificate.
  9. A copy of both your driver's licenses or non-drivers State ID showing your same address.
  10. A copy of your Passport and a copy of your Spouses US Passport, Birth Certificate and/or a Naturalization Certificate.
  11. A copy of your children's birth certificate if any.

What Happens After The Couple Files The Joint Petition To Remove Conditions On Residence With All The Evidence? - About 2-4 weeks later the Immigration Services sends a receipt notice to the couple's home address. If the joint petition was sent on time the receipt mailed by the couple's home is no ordinary receipt, it actually extends the green card status for one year. So it is important to keep this receipt extension in safe place with the green card and passport.

About 1-4 weeks after the receipt extension arrives, a biometrics appointment notice will also arrive at the couple's home. The biometrics appointment is for immigrant spouse to get their digital fingerprint, picture and signature taken at a local federal facility.

Processing times vary but usually a decision is given within a year. If a decision is not given within a year the immigrant spouse may make a infopass appointment with the local Immigration Services office and request an extension.

If the case is approved the immigrant spouse will receive an approval notice and then the 10 year green card in the mail. The 10 year green card is without condition but must be renewed every 10 years. The immigrant spouse may be eligible to apply to be Naturalized as a United States Citizens through his/her spouse as early as 3 years from the time they received their conditional residence card (Please see my article about US Citizenship).

What If The U.S. Citizen Spouse Will Not File The Joint Petition For Removal Of Condition? - If the couple does not file jointly the green card status may be terminated by the immigration services. However, there may be a way to file a waiver to remove the conditions on residence if:
  1. The couple entered into the marriage in good faith, but the U.S. citizen spouse subsequently died;
  2. The couple entered into the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was later terminated due to divorce or annulment,
  3. The couple entered into the marriage in good faith and have remained married but the immigrant spouse has been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or
  4. The termination of the immigrants status and removal would result in extreme hardship.

Please see my article about filing a waiver to remove the conditions on residence and we urge you to speak to a qualified immigration attorney before you file any immigration forms.