Couples whose marriage was less than 2 years old, at the time they applied for the alien spouse’s adjustment of status (Green Card), MUST file a petition to USCIS to upgrade the spouse’s green card from a “conditional” permanent residency to non-conditional.
Basically this is THE last checkpoint for Immigration to catch fraud. Immigration wants to verify that the couple is genuine, and that the marriage was not a sham.
Ideally the couple is still together, and both are available to submit proof of the continuing “bona fide” nature of their marriage, and to attend (together) an interview conducted by USCIS.
Immigration understands that Americans sometimes form romantic relationships with foreign born individuals, and they provide a procedure that allows a foreign fiance or spouse to immigrate to the USA for permanent residency.
Immigration also knows that this is an area where fraud often occurs. To get a student visa one needs to be accepted for enrollment at a school or university, for a work visa to have special skills or training, for an investment visa, lots of cash.
But anyone, without any special qualifications at all, can say they have fallen in love and plan marriage.
Immigration finds it difficult to separate the real from fake so they apply one more final test. Basically, it is the “test of time”.
The spouse who became eligible for permanent residency by marriage, from a marriage that was less than two years old, was not approved for “Permanent”, Permanent Residency.
Instead, she was only granted temporary, or “conditional” approval.
The approval was is good for two years ONLY. The Green Card she got in the mail, has a two year later expiry date.
Near the end of the 2 years. the couple needs return to USCIS and and once again, demonstrate their marriage is bona fide.
Once they successfully accomplish this the spouse’s permanent residency is upgraded from “conditional”, permanent residency to “permanent”, permanent residency.
To achieve this we submit a petition called “Petition for Removal of Conditions on Residency“. This needs be received within the 90 day window prior to the tempoary Green cards expiry.
The standard for approval is higher than it was for the original adjustment of status. As now, immigration expects a solid 2 – 3 year long, paper trail showing evidences of co-habitation, normal married life, and intertwining of assets and liabilities.
Once again, here is where my signature philosophy of crafting a winning “front loaded” petition with persuasive proof pays off. While many couples are required to attend a final interview most of my clients due to the comprehensive nature of the petition I prepare, are approved without need for an interview.
A conditional Green Card is good for 24 months only. The card will show its issue date, and expiry date. Anytime during the 90 days preceding the expiry, the couple must submit their petition to “Remove the Conditions of Permanent Residency”.
If you don’t apply to remove the conditions in time, you could lose your
conditional resident status.
Filing too soon, earlier than 90 days before the conditional residence expires, the application will be returned.
If no longer married to your sponsor spouse, or if there has been
spousal abuse,; a waiver for the joint filing requirement can be submitted.
Children can be included in the application if they received their
conditional resident status at the same time, or within 6
Once the petition is filed, USCIS extends the conditional resident status for up to 12 months while the petition is under review.
By Fred Wahl