Conditional Residency (two-year green card)

What is conditional residency (conditional green card)?

A conditional green card, also known as CR1, is valid for two years and is issued to foreign nationals who have been married for less than two years. It is important to note that the conditional green card cannot be renewed. To maintain your status and avoid the need to leave the United States, it is necessary to adjust your status within the 90-day period before the card expires. As part of the process to remove the conditions on your permanent residency, it is required to provide evidence that your marriage is genuine.

Petitioning to Remove Conditions

When your conditional residency is nearing the end of its validity period and now you need to petition to remove the conditions with Form I-751 three months before your conditional residency expires.

If you are still married you will petition with your spouse informing USCIS that you are still married to the spouse who petitioned for you. This is considered a joint petition to remove the conditions since both you and your partner will sign it (exceptions listed below to divorce, abuse, etc.)

If you are no longer married to the spouse who petitioned for you then you must self-petition with a request for a waiver of the join filing requirement based on the termination of the marriage. You will have to show USCIS that you are now divorced (you can file if your divorce is pending but it can’t be approved until your divorce is finalized). Further, you will need to prove to the USCIS officer’s satisfaction that the marriage was bona fide at the time when you entered into it.

Removing the Conditions Without Your Spouse

As discussed above, you can petition without your spouse requesting a waiver of the joint-filing requirement under the following conditions:

  • The marriage was entered in good faith but the spouse is not deceased
  • The marriage was entered in good faith but the union is now terminated due to annulment or divorce
  • The marriage was entered in good faith but there is domestic violence or extreme cruelty by the petitioning spouse
  • You are the child of a conditional resident parent who entered the marriage in good faith but you have been subject to violence or extreme cruelty by your parent’s spouse or by the conditional resident parent
  • Losing your status and being removed from the U.S. would cause ‘extreme hardship’

If you are filing with the request to have the joining requirement waived (filing individually) you can do so between the time your are granted conditional resident status and before being removed from the U.S.

If extraordinary circumstances arise and you are unable to file (not due to your fault) you are permitted to file late but must include a detailed explanation of the reason you’re filing late to USCIS.

When to file Form I-751?

You should aim to submit your application within the 90-day period before your conditional green card expires. It’s important to note that this is a joint petition, so both partners should complete and sign the form together. In addition to the form, you will need to provide sufficient evidence to prove the authenticity of your marriage. This can include documents such as joint bills, joint lease/mortgages, photos of you and your partner together, and any relevant documentation regarding children (if applicable). Don’t forget to include a copy of your conditional green card and the necessary filing and biometric fees.

Filing Fee & Biometric Service Fee

The filing fee for Form I-751 is $595 while the biometric service fee is $85.

What to Bring to Your Biometrics Appointment

Review your biometric appointment sheet to see what exactly they’d like you to bring. You should be sure to bring a form of government photo ID such as :

  • Driver’s License
  • Passport or ID issued by home country
  • Military or state-issued photo ID

Documents to Support Good Faith Marriage

  • Birth certificates of children born during marriage if applicable
  • Joint housing contracts like mortgages or leases
  • Joint financial accounts (checking/savings), joint tax returns
  • Insurance policies with the spouse as the beneficiary
  • Joint utility bills
  • Copies of military Leave and Earnings Statements showing receipt of Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ) with family members for military members
  • Sworn affidavits by friends who are familiar with the relationship

Frequently Asked Questions About Conditional Green Cards

My conditional green card expired, can I still work?

If your conditional green card expired but your filed Form I-751 already then your resident status is automatically extended for 24 months while your case is processed by USCIS. On the receipt notice it will say “Your conditional permanent resident status is extended for 24 months from the expiration date on your Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card).” That means you are legally able to travel out of the United States and work in the U.S. for those 24 months.

Do I need to file an extension for this 24-month period?

No, as long as you have submitted Form I-751 prior to the expiration of your conditional green card, this extension is automatic.

What if I am asked for proof of my immigration status?

If someone asks you can show them the receipt notice from USCIS (mailed within 6-8 weeks after filing Form I-751) and your expired green card as these serve as proof of your status. You are still a conditional resident while your I-751 is pending.

What if my conditional green card expired and I didn’t file Form I-751?

Until an NTA has been filed with the immigration court you are still able to file an I-751 with USCIS, but you would want to consult with an immigration attorney first as this makes your case more complicated. Even if your case is sent to the immigration court you are always able to file an I-751 with the Court and the Judge will rule on your removal of conditions.

Can someone with a conditional green card do everything a permanent green card holder can?

Yes, apart from having to remove the conditions after the two years, they have the same rights.

Do people with ten-year green cards need to file Form I-751?

No, they do not. Only those with conditional 2-year green cards.

What does IR1 on my green card mean?

This stands for immediate relative.

Does my time as a conditional resident count towards my citizenship?

Yes, it does.

What is a CR6 green card?

CR is the class of admission so if you see CR6 that means you have a  conditional green card.

Is an interview required?

If you and your spouse are filing jointly to remove the conditions, you may not need to be interviewed. The chances of being required to go through an interview are higher if you are requesting to waive the joint filing requirement, which is the case if you are divorced, or if you were not interviewed for your conditional residency.

How long does it take to get permanent green card from conditional?

Once you have submitted Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, the processing time for your permanent green card can vary from 12 to 18 months. The duration of the processing time will depend largely on how thoroughly you completed your paperwork, including all requested documents. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to have an immigration professional carefully review your case and ensure that all documents are correctly submitted.

What is the difference between a conditional and permanent resident?

A conditional green card is valid for two years while permanent green card (granted to permanent residents) is valid for ten years.

Can I cancel my spouse’s conditional green card?

The complexity of canceling spouse’s green card depends on if their I-130 or I-485 petition has been approved yet. If they have not been approved yet then the process is pretty straightforward. The sponsor will need to request to withdraw the petition with a letter to USCIS, including receipt numbers. In the event that the green card has already been approved (but not yet issued) then you must include a reason you are requesting the withdrawal. If the green card has already been approved and the individual has already received status as a U.S. citizen then you will need to prove that fraudulent activity has taken place. You would want to speak with an attorney before doing this.

How do I cancel my spouse’s visa petition?

If it hasn’t been approved yet, then you can withdraw the I-130 with a signed and notarized letter, if the relationship has ended.

Who gets a two-year conditional green card?

Individuals who have been married for less than two years are issued conditional green cards.

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