If you obtained your green card based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen and you have been married to the U.S. citizen for less than 2 years on the day you obtained your green card, your green card will only be valid for a conditional period of 2 years. In order to renew the green card in the future, you will be required to file the Petition to Remove Conditions on Green Card. The reason for this is that the U.S. government wants to make sure that you have a legitimate marriage and did not get married just to get a green card.
How do I remove conditions on my Green Card? Do I have to file the petition with my spouse? Do I qualify for a waiver?
As a general rule, you must file the Petition to Remove Conditions on Green Card jointly with your spouse. However, in some cases you can ask USCIS to waive this joint filing requirement. You can qualify for the waiver if you can show that you entered the marriage in good faith but one of the following situations has occurred:
- Your spouse has died;
- The marriage was terminated through divorce or annulment;
- You have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen/green card holder spouse;
- Having your status terminated and being removed from the U.S. would result in extreme hardship.
What do I need to prove when removing the conditions on my Green card?
You must establish that:
- The marriage was valid;
- The marriage has not been terminated;
- The marriage was not entered into for the purposes of getting a green card.
What evidence should be included with the petition?
You should include evidence that shows that the marriage is based on a real relationship and was not entered into for the purpose of getting a green card. You should submit evidence that proves the bona fide relationship from the date of the marriage until the present date. Examples of relevant evidence are included below:
- Documents showing joint ownership of property;
- Lease agreements showing common residence;
- Documents showing commingling of finances;
- Joint bank statements, joint tax returns, insurance policies that show the other spouse as the beneficiary, joint utility bills, joint installments, joint loans etc. ;
- Birth certificates of children born in marriage;
- Other documents establishing that the marriage is based on a real, legitimate relationship. For example, you could include affidavits from friends or family members who have known you as a couple and can attest to the validity of the relationship.
When should I file the Petition to remove the conditions?
The Petition to Remove Conditions on a green card must be filed during the 90 day period before your conditional green card expires. If you do not file the petition within this time, your conditional green card status will be automatically terminated and removal proceedings will begin against you.
The petition can be filed after this period only if you can prove in writing that the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control and the length of delay was reasonable. The USCIS officer has discretion to approve the petition and restore your permanent resident status or deny the petition since it was not filed on time.
Please note that if you are filing the Petition to Remove Conditions along with a request for a waiver of the joint filing requirement, you may submit the petition before, during or even after the 90-days before the second anniversary of your green card status.
Will I have to attend an interview at USCIS again?
In certain cases, USCIS may schedule an interview. In such case, you will receive an Appointment Notice and you will have to appear for the interview.
Can I apply for naturalization if my Petition to remove the conditions is still pending?
If you are applying for U.S. citizenship based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, you can apply for U.S. citizenship if you have been a green card holder for at least 3 years and you have been married to and living with the same U.S. citizen for at least 3 years. Please note that you may apply for a U.S. citizenship while your Petition to remove conditions is pending. However, your naturalization application will not be approved until the petition to remove conditions is approved.
Please see our blog post on how to maintain your green card when you click here.
Please see our blog post discussing how to prepare for the naturalization interview when you click here.
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