Removing Green Card Conditions For Marriage-Based Permanent Residency
Many people obtain their green card (lawful permanent residence) through marriage. This type of green card is sometimes conditional, meaning it is only valid for two years. The purpose behind the conditional green card is to prevent people from entering sham marriages just to get immigration benefits.
You must follow certain steps to remove the conditions from your green card and get your ten-year, or “permanent”, green card. At ERM Immigration Law, PLLC, we can help you with that process. We are a top-rated immigration law firm dedicated to helping immigrants accomplish their dreams of living and working here in the U.S. Based in Seattle, Washington, we help people from around the world navigate the family-based immigration process, including marriage-based green cards.
What’s Involved In The Process?
To get a permanent green card, you must file the appropriate documentation to remove the conditions on your conditional green card. This involves preparing form I-751 and supporting documentation, and jointly filing it with your spouse (except in cases of divorce or domestic abuse). You might also have to go through another immigration interview with the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). In some cases, there are strategies for avoiding the hassle of another interview. Our immigration lawyers can advise you on those.
Do I Have To Remove Conditions?
If you were married for less than two years when your green card was approved, you will be issued a green card that is valid for only two years. You will have to apply to remove conditions before it expires. Once approved, you will receive a “permanent” green card valid for ten years.
When Do You Have To File Form I-751?
The timing is important for removing conditions from your green card. You must file the petition in the 90-day window before the expiration date on your conditional green card (two years after it was issued). Because the preparation process can be time-intensive, it is wise to get started sooner rather than later. If you fail to meet this deadline, your application may be denied and you could get placed in deportation proceedings. For this reason, it is critical to work with an attorney on filing a timely application.
What If You Missed The Deadline?
If you missed the deadline because of circumstances beyond your control, you may still be able to get approval, but you’ll have to provide a compelling written explanation. You will have to explain what happened, why it was out of your control, and why the delay wasn’t too long under the circumstances. Our lawyers can help you with this.
What If You’re Divorced?
You can still pursue a permanent green card even if you are divorced – and, as mentioned above, it is important to do so before your conditional green card expires. By filing without your ex-spouse, you’ll face an additional burden. You’ll have to provide strong evidence that your marriage was legitimate. Our attorneys understand how to present a strong case in these circumstances.
I Am Getting A Divorce, When Should I File?
If your divorce is final, you can file your I-751 as soon as your divorce is finalized. You can do this early, even if you are not in the 90-day window before your conditional green card expires. Or, you can wait until the 90-day window to file. You do not have to file early.
What If My Spouse Won’t Cooperate?
If your spouse won’t sign the I-751, you must wait until your divorce is final or file with a signature waiver request. We can help.
What If Your Spouse Is Abusive?
You can still apply for a permanent green card individually, without your spouse, if the relationship is abusive. However, you will have to provide evidence of the abuse or mistreatment. It is important to work with a lawyer to ensure that you’re presenting a strong case.
Does My I-751 Have To Be Approved To Apply For Naturalization?
No! You do not have to wait for your I-751 to be approved before you can apply for Naturalization. If you are otherwise eligible, you can file your N-400 even if the I-751 is not yet approved. Check with us to see if you are eligible.
Get Answers To Your Questions About Form I-751
As with other aspects of the immigration process, securing a removal of your green card conditions can be an overwhelming process. Much is at stake. Our legal team can ensure that you do it right. To learn more, contact us through our website or call us at 206-745-9241.