US Immigration News

Removing the Conditions on Your Green Card If Your Marital Status Changed

4.75 minute read
"Have you been issued a conditional permanent residence based on your marriage to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident? A conditional permanent residence is only valid for 2 years at a time."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  May 3, 2021
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Have you been issued a conditional permanent residence based on your marriage to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident? A conditional permanent residence is only valid for 2 years at a time. 

A conditional permanent residence is issued when you have been married for less than 2 years to your spouse and have applied for a Green Card. After 2 years- when your Green Card expires, you are authorized to petition the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) within 90 days to issue you an unconditional Green Card that is valid for 10 years. 

How Can You Remove the Conditions on Your Green Card?

You will be required to provide the filing fee and biometric information. To remove the conditions on your Green Card, you and your spouse must sign the Form I-751 and submit it within 90 days. You must submit the form under the following scenarios:

  • You were issued a conditional Green Card valid for 2 years since you were petitioned by your spouse and it is about to expire or expired before you could receive your 10 year Green Card and your spouse has passed away
  • Your marriage ended in divorce or was annulled before you could remove the conditions on your Green Card. This means that you no longer have a marital relationship with the person who petitioned for your residency
  • If you were experiencing abuse from your spouse
  • You are still married 

If you are still married to your spouse, then you must file Form I-751 together within 90 days of your card’s expiration date to make sure that you are not out of status. If you are unable to file before the expiration date, the USCIS will terminate your conditional status and begin removal proceedings against you. 

You will receive a “Notice to Appear” at hearings where you will be given the chance to present evidence to review and rebuttal the decision of your removal. If you are applying late for whatever reason, you must submit a letter to the USCIS Service Centre director giving a genuine reason backed by evidence. 

It will be up to the discretion of the director to choose whether to approve your petition to restore your status or not.

How to Get Your Green Card After A Divorce?

If you are getting a divorce, you will be required to convince the USCIS that there is a valid reason to bypass the joint filing requirement that requires the signature of your spouse. This can be done by providing evidence that your marriage was in good faith and not solely for immigration documents. 

You must prepare a formal explanation for the reason for the divorce with the help of a qualified immigration attorney. However, if your case turns out to not be compelling or the USCIS discovers that it was your fault that the marriage ended, your petition will be denied. 

Filling Form I-751 Before Your Divorce is Finalized

You can file Form I-751 any time even if your conditional Green Card is nowhere near its expiration date provided you have a final order of divorce or annulment. However, if your spouse is not present to file the form due to separation, you must submit a waiver for the joint filing requirement. To get the waiver, you must submit evidence that your marriage was in good faith and it did not end at your fault. 

What Evidence Can be Submitted Regarding Divorce?

You can submit the following documents to demonstrate that your marriage was in good faith and it did not end because of you:

  • It ended due to irreconcilable differences such as child-rearing, finances, etc
  • The marriage ended because of the spouse’s adultery, imprisonment or other valid reason
  • The attempt to reconcile was made through marriage counseling 

What Should You Do If Your Spouse Passed Away?

If your spouse passed away before you were able to remove the conditions on your permanent residence, then you will be required to submit a copy of your spouse’s death certificate and any evidence regarding the life you shared while filing Form I-175. You can file Form I-175 any time between your spouse’s expiration date and your Green Card’s expiry date. 

What to do If You Faced Abuse or Battery During Marriage?

You are allowed to file Form I-175 without your spouse if they were abusive to you during the marriage. You will be required to submit evidence of abuse such as a restraining order, affidavits of domestic violence shelters, photographs or medical reports detailing your injuries and other evidence if available. If you have filed for divorce or have divorced, then you must also include a copy of the final decision on your divorce. 

What If Your Marriage Ended but Termination of Your Residency Will Result in “Extreme Hardship” to You?

It is quite a tricky situation to request unconditional residency based on this reason as now it does not matter if your relationship was in good faith or to get a Green Card. You will be required to prove that you would face “extreme hardship” if you return to your home country.

This could be because of factors that have arisen since the time your Green Card was initially approved. For example, a civil war broke out in your home country, etc. If more than one special circumstances apply to you, then you can consider them all by checking all the boxes on your Form I-175. 

What Can Get Your Form I-175 Petition Denied?

Your petition to remove the conditions on your permanent residence may be denied on the following grounds:

  • You failed to file the petition on time without providing solid evidence of extenuating circumstances
  • Failing to provide enough proof of relationship with your spouse
  • Your marriage is suspected to be fraudulent

You can avoid this situation by ensuring that you file Form I-175 on time and provide enough evidence to support your relationship with your spouse and respond to any Request for Evidence (RFE) from the USCIS.

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