Jamaica Magazine

Green Card Renewal – Removing the Conditions on Residency

If you have an old edition Green Card that was issued prior to 1989 and has no expiration date, US CIS encourages you to renew your card as soon as possible. Although it is not currently mandatory, US CIS will soon make it so. The renewal of the Green Card serves the purpose of updating your biometric information with US CIS. Biometrics are your unique identifying information such as fingerprints and electronic photograph. The renewal process also allows you to update any biographic information such as name or address changes. In order to renew your old edition card, you can submit an application on-line at www.uscis.gov or mail a paper application with filing fee of $370 to US CIS. If you have ever been arrested or had criminal convictions since your card was initially issued, it is critical that you consult a competent Immigration Attorney as criminal background checks are routinely conducted and will affect the issuance of a new card.

For many people who have conditional resident status or CR6 status, the process of renewing the Green Card is different than mentioned above. Conditional Resident status is the status given to individuals who obtained their Green Cards through a marriage petition; and the marriage was less than two (2) years old at the time of the initial adjustment of status interview. The purpose of giving conditional resident status is to make sure that the marriage is bona fide and not solely for the purpose of getting a Green Card. Roughly two (2) years after the initial adjustment of status interview, the couple is required to submit a petition to remove the conditions of residency. This must be done at least three (3) months prior to the expiration of the Conditional Green Card. The petition for the removal of conditions is not the same Form I-90 that is required for the replacement or renewal of a Green Card as mentioned above. The form required for the removal of conditions is form I-751 and the filing fee currently is $545. This form requires that applicants file and sign jointly with their sponsoring US citizen spouse. The applicants must produce additional documentation to show they continue to live together from the time of their last interview until the time of their submission, usually that two year period of marriage.

Most often applicants for the removal of conditions will be interviewed a second time because of US CIS policy and experience with marriage fraud. The application for the removal of conditions may be pending for several years, but the applicant can usually apply for naturalization while the I-751 application is pending. This may accelerate the processing time of the filing of Form I-751 as most applicants are eligible to naturalize within three (3) years of becoming a conditional resident. It should be noted; however, that an interview for both the naturalization and removal of conditions may be consolidated. These joint interviews can be rigorous and intense.

If the parties are separated or no longer living together, this poses quite a problem. If the applicant can obtain a final order of dissolution of marriage, then s/he can still submit an application to remove the conditions on residency; however, s/he must do this as a “waiver” application. These applicants must prove the same thing as joint filers, that is, that they entered their marriage in good faith and lived with that spouse for a reasonable period of time before separation or divorce. Also, if the reason for separation is psychological or physical nature, then the applicant can still remove the conditions on residency to obtain a ten (10) year Green Card or “Permanent” Residency status. The standards of proof for psychological abuse (i.e. extreme cruelty) and/or physical abuse are extremely high and demanding. Well proven cases will generally be approved, but will still require a rigorous and intense interview.

If conditional status has been formally terminated by US CIS, it is difficult to re-open a case and the only recourse for the applicant may be in front of a judge in Immigration Court. Also, if during the years the joint application for removal of conditions is pending the couple separates and divorces, then the immigrant can re-submit a waiver application, but must do so quickly. Thus, it is important to maintain lawful status in the US and renew or replace Green Cards sooner rather than later. For old edition card holders, the time to renew is now. For conditional residents or two (2) year Green Card holders, it is 90 days before the card expires or anytime prior to termination of status if a waiver is required.

Attorney Nadine A. Brown practices Immigration Law in the Greater Orlando, Florida area. She has practiced Immigration Law for approximately 8 years, 3 of which was as the supervising attorney for the Catholic Charities Immigration & Refugee Services and the last 4 in private practice. Her firm was established in 2002 and her cases involve issues relating to asylum, citizenship, consular affairs, deportation, residency petitions, student and business visas, and visa extensions or changes of
status. She handles all cases personally. Questions can be sent to [email protected]

Please visit her website at: www.nadinebrownpa.com

About the author

Nadine A.Brown