In 1986, Congress passed the Marriage Fraud Act to deter sham marriages in immigration cases. Under the Act, if a person becomes a permanent resident based on marriage, within two years of that marriage, he or she gets conditional permanent residence. A conditional permanent resident receives a green card valid for 2 years. During your two years of conditional residency, you will have all the day-to-day rights of a permanent resident. That means being able to work, travel in and out of the United States, and even count your time toward the three or five years of residence you will need to accumulate before applying for U.S. citizenship.
In order to remain a permanent resident, a conditional permanent resident must file a petition to remove the condition during the 90 days before the card expires. The conditional card cannot be renewed. If you do not apply to remove the conditions in time, you could lose your conditional resident status and be removed from the country.
How to Apply to Remove the Conditions
You and your spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on your residence by filing Form I-751. You should apply during the 90 days before your second anniversary as a conditional resident. The expiration date on your green card is also the date of your second anniversary as a conditional resident. The most important information you need to submit is evidence of your marital relationship. These might include copies of rent receipts, joint bank or credit card statements, and your children’s birth certificates. Include only documents covering the last two years (USCIS does not want to see items that you have already submitted in the past). Depending on the evidence submitted, an interview may not be required.
Waiver of the Joint Petition Requirement
The waiver allows the non citizen to apply to remove the condition on his or her green card without the assistance of their spouse. You may request a waiver of the joint petitioning requirements if any one of the following applies to you:
(1) Good faith marriage ground (if your divorce is final at the time of filing)
• You entered into your marriage in good faith, and not to evade immigration laws, but the marriage ended by annulment or divorce, and you were not at fault in failing to file a timely petition
(2) Extreme hardship
• Your deportation or removal would result in extreme hardship
(3) Extreme cruelty
• You entered into your marriage in good faith, and not to evade immigration laws, but during the marriage you or your child were battered by, or subjected to extreme cruelty committed by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, and you were not at fault in failing to file a joint petition
In such cases, you may apply to remove the conditions on your permanent residence at any time after you become a conditional resident, but before you are removed from the country. Waivers are generally more difficult to get approved and many district offices require an interview of the noncitizen spouse for the case to be approved.
If your joint petition or waiver is denied?
If your application to remove the conditions on your permanent residence is denied, you will receive a letter that will tell you why the application was denied. The process to remove you from the country will begin as soon as your application is denied. You will be allowed to have an immigration judge review the denial of your application during removal proceedings.