Most people are familiar with the conditional 2 year permanent resident card, i.e., “green card.” If you are not familiar with the conditional 2 year green card then this article will provide a brief summary of this green card and hopefully illuminate the difficult issues that are associated with the 2 year conditional green card and some tips to help you to successfully remove the conditions on your card.
What is the two-year conditional green card:
The 2 year conditional green card is granted to individuals who have not yet reached their second wedding anniversary when they are interviewed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services “USCIS” for their permanent residence petition, i.e, “green card interview. The scenario looks like this. A gentleman, (from another country), meets a young lady from the United States and they fall in love. The couple is now married and now the United States citizen or Permanent Resident wife files for her husband so that he can obtain his permanent residence in the United States. At the couple’s interview the couple has only been married for one year. Consequently, when Immigration approves the husband’s permanent residence application USCIS issues a 2 year conditional green card and not the standard 10 year green card that has no conditions attached to it. With the 2 year conditional green card the husband will be required to file his application to remove the conditions on his green card before the expiration of his card. This application to remove the conditions (Form I-751) is expected to be a joint petition i.e, signed and submitted by couple. The I-751 petition informs USCIS that the couple are still married to each other and that they are still living together and showing that they are a genuine bona fide couple. In addition to the I-751 petition USCIS expects to see documentary evidence of the couple’s shared life from the time the 2 year green card was issued to present. In the event that the I-751 petition is never filed the husband will lose his green card status. In the event that the wife refuses to sign the I-751 petition, the wife has abandoned the husband, the wife has abused the husband, the couple is divorced, separated, having marital problems, or the wife is deceased the husband is still required to file his I-751 petition with USCIS. This is where most people begin to worry and they encounter difficulties.
Problems with the removing the conditions on a two year conditional green card:
The main difficulty with the process of removing the conditions on the 2 year green card stem from the fact that the I-751 form itself only provides limited options under which you can file your petition when you are having marital problems. For example the I-751 form does not allow you to indicate on the form that that you are separated from your spouse. The second issue is that if the husband is not able to submit a joint petition with his wife and the necessary documentary evidence of their marriage, USCIS then places a high burden on the husband to prove that he had a genuine bona fide marriage to his wife and that his marriage was not entered into for the convenience of acquiring immigration benefits. In the event that the husband is able to prove his case by submitting his documents and attending his interview USCIS will remove the conditions from his card and issue him with a standard 10 year green card. In the event that the husband is not able to convince USCIS of the genuineness of his marriage his 2 year green card will be revoked and he will be placed in removal proceedings.
The solution to the uncertainty of the I-751 process is to be prepared. First as soon as you have received your 2 year green card go ahead and place the expiration of your card on your calendar. The two year deadline is extremely important. If you miss that deadline and you file the I-751 petition after the deadline you will now face an uphill battle with USCIS even if you and your spouse are happily married and have filed a joint petition. The second tip is to keep records of all things that are associated with your marriage. All tax documents, bank accounts, lease/deed documents, joint insurance policies, joint household bills, family pictures, etc., should be kept in a safe place. Most times individuals are so busy living their lives that they forget that in two years USCIS will want to review their documents. It is also important that you communicate with your spouse and let he or she know the importance of creating and maintaining your family records. If you are in situation where your spouse is abusive or does not wish to continue with the marriage it is now solely your responsibility to document this and keep your own records in a safe place. Finally, if you find yourself in the uncomfortable situation where you are separated or divorced from your spouse you should seek out the advice of an immigration attorney prior to the expiration of your 2 year green card and before you file your divorce complaint or your complaint for separate maintenance. In the event that your I-751 petition is denied and you are placed in removal proceedings you still have the option of having the court review your I-751 petition for the second time. The Court has the power to review and approved a denied I-751 Petition.
If you currently have a 2 year conditional green card or know of someone who has a 2 year conditional green card, we would love to speak with you. We are going to be doing a very brief questionnaire on the I-751 application process so that we can simplify the I-751 process for you. Call us at 678-736-5600 or send us an email at [email protected].
Disclaimer: This article is a broad overview of various immigration issues. This article is not legal advice and should not be taken as legal advice. This article is provided as a public service and is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Any reliance on the information contained herein is taken at your own risk. The information provided in this article should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.
About the Writer:
Safiya Byars is the founder and senior partner of the Byars Firm, Inc. She is a native of Kingston, Jamaica. Attorney Byars shows her clients the best ways to get their cases approved the FIRST time while reducing processing times and avoiding immigration red flags that result in delays, denials, and deportation. The Byars Firm is located at 3720 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Suite D2, Chamblee, Georgia 30341. Attorney Byars handles all immigration matters, deportation defense, family law, and criminal issues. Attorney Byars can be reached at 678-736-5600, 404-992-6506 or via email at [email protected] and www.byarslawgroup.com.