Conditional green card holders based on a marriage to a U.S. Citizen are the latest category of those feeling the effects of the “Invisible Wall”. A Reagan-era immigration reform from 1986, marriage-based permanent residents are required a 2-year “temporary” green card before being granted permanent residency without conditions. After two years, these green card holders are required to submit a I-751 Petition for Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residence. These residents must file in the limited 90-day window before the two-year anniversary of their green card approval and file before the expiration date on their green card.
In the past, a petitioner would usually expect to wait 4-6 months for their approved removal of conditions to come from USCIS. However, as a result of historic processing delays, many conditional residents are waiting as long as two years before receiving a decision. USCIS often issues an “extension” of conditional residence, between 12 and 18 months, in which the petitioner can still travel and hold employment. Regardless of these extended conditional statuses and receipt notices, expired green cards can hinder those attempting to apply for mortgages, get a new job, or those who need to travel abroad; these delays are leaving many confused and uncertain about their current legal status.
In this time of uncertainty surrounding conditional resident status and green card applications, we encourage those experiencing similar situations to remain informed on the status and location of your case. There are not many legal options at this time for those with pending I-751 applications; be aware of recent updates on your case and remain patient.