How to Remove Conditions on Your Green Card
Conditional permanent residents – people who are lawful permanent residents of the United States – must meet certain obligations before the U.S. government will issue them a permanent green card. But who is a conditional resident, what are the conditions, and what happens if someone fails to remove the conditions from a green card? This guide explains.
What You Need to Know Before You Remove Conditions on Your Green Card
A conditional green card is good for two years. If you fail to remove the conditions from your green card, you’ll lose your lawful permanent resident status. At that point, the U.S. government can deport you to your home country – even if you’ve established a life here (and even if it means leaving behind your spouse, children and other family members who depend on you).
It’s very important that you petition the government to remove the conditions on your green card as soon as you’re eligible to do so. You can file this petition beginning 90 days before the date that your green card is set to expire.
Who is a Conditional Permanent Resident?
A conditional permanent resident is a person who has lawful permanent residency in the United States. These residents can live and work anywhere they want in the country, but they don’t have permanent residency yet. Conditional green cards last for two years; before the end of the initial two years, conditional residents are required to petition the government to remove the conditions.
Conditions When You Get a Green Card Through Marriage
The conditions you must meet when you get a green card through marriage are that you stay married to the same spouse and continue to demonstrate that you didn’t get married just for an immigration benefit. There are exceptions, though, and even if your relationship doesn’t last, you may be eligible to ask the government to remove the conditions on your green card. If you’re no longer married to the spouse who qualified you for your conditional green card but you want to keep your lawful permanent resident status, you should contact an Austin family immigration attorney for guidance.
Conditions on Investors’ and Entrepreneurs’ Green Cards
Qualifying investors who want to become lawful permanent residents of the United States get conditional green cards. Conditional green cards for investors last two years, and the beneficiary must file a petition with the government to remove the conditions before the green card expires. The conditions on an investor green card are that the investor put the appropriate amount of capital into a U.S. business and created the required number of jobs.
Common Questions About Removing Conditions on a Green Card
Check out these frequently asked questions about removing the conditions on a green card. If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for here, please feel free to call our office to ask. We’ll be happy to give you the answers you need during a free, no-obligation consultation.
When Should You Petition to Remove Conditions?
You’re eligible to petition the government to remove conditions on a green card 90 days before the green card expires. You should file as soon as possible; the sooner the government gets your petition, the sooner it can approve and issue your permanent green card.
Removal of Conditions Timeline
It can take USCIS between 10 and 12 months to remove the conditions on your green card. The earlier you file your petition – within the 90-day window of your conditional green card’s expiration date, that is – the better.
What if Your Green Card Expires While Your Petition is Still Pending?
It’s okay if your green card expires while your removal of conditions petition is still “in the works.”
When you file a petition to remove the conditions on your green card, USCIS will send you a receipt. They usually send the receipt between four and eight weeks after receiving the petition. Your receipt extends your conditional permanent residence for 18 months; that means you’re still a lawful permanent resident, even if your green card is expired. If you ever need to prove to someone that you’re in lawful permanent resident status, you simply need to show them your green card and your USCIS receipt.
Can You Remove Conditions on a Green Card Without a Spouse?
It is possible to remove the conditions on your green card without your spouse. Although you typically need your spouse’s consent (a citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse must usually file the petition to remove the conditions), the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, provides for people to file on their own in cases of abuse or extreme cruelty.
A VAWA self-petitioner is a person who is eligible to file their own immigration petitions due to abuse or extreme cruelty; the abuse doesn’t have to be physical.
What if You Fail to Remove the Conditions on Your Green Card?
Conditional green cards are non-renewable; your only option is to remove the conditions. If you don’t petition the government to remove the conditions on your green card, your green card will expire. When your conditional green card expires, you no longer have lawful permanent resident status in the United States, and the U.S. government can begin removal (deportation) proceedings against you.
Note: A conditional green card is different from a permanent green card when it comes to expiration. When your conditional green card expires, you lose your residency status. However, when your permanent green card expires, you keep your residency status – you simply need a new copy of your card (just like an expired U.S. driver’s license).
Can USCIS Refuse to Remove the Conditions on Your Green Card?
USCIS can find that you’re deportable from the United States and refuse to remove the conditions on your green card. That typically happens in cases of marriage fraud, an investor failing to invest the appropriate amount of money or create the required number of jobs, when a conditional green card-holder commits a serious crime, or in other extreme circumstances.
Can You Renew a Conditional Green Card if You’re Not Ready to Remove the Conditions?
You cannot renew a conditional green card. You must take the next step, which is petitioning the government to remove conditions, or let your green card expire and leave the United States.
How Long Does a Permanent Green Card Last?
A permanent green card lasts ten years. You’re supposed to renew your card (which may include getting a new picture) every ten years. However, our lawful permanent resident status is permanent – even if your green card expires. You won’t lose lawful permanent residency if you fail to renew your green card in a timely manner. However, failing to renew your green card can cause other problems; you won’t be able to prove your lawful immigration status to employers or anyone else without a current green card.