International marriage is becoming common. In order to make it work, however, there are legalities that must be observed, and many people wind up in trouble due to being unaware of such requirements. One of the most important is having conditions placed on your permanent residency, and how to apply to remove them. This is done to cut down on fraudulent “green card” marriages, but it can cause problems even for those in true relationships.
Conditions Placed on Permanent Residency
If you are engaged to marry a U.S. citizen, or if you have been married for less than two years upon your entry into the U.S., you are entitled to apply for permanent residence. However, if successful, you will receive a conditional grant of permanent residency, valid for two years only. United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will then more fully investigate your background and bona fides during that two year period.
During that period, you may live relatively normally, aside from having to inform USCIS of any address changes; you may work, drive, and do all of the other things permanent residents may do like travel to and from the United States. However, you may not have much time to act if an irregularity is found, as you may be deported or placed in proceedings if the issue is egregious enough.
Removing the Conditions
In order to graduate, so to speak, from conditional to unconditional permanent residence, you must file the appropriate paperwork at exactly the right time (as well as not being found inadmissible or deportable by USCIS, as one might imagine.) This time is at any point during the 90 days immediately before your status’s expiration date. For example, if your status as a conditional permanent resident expires on May 1, you would have to file your petition to remove conditions at any point between February 1 and April 30. The deadlines are strict, with very little room for extension or extra help. However, if you are only a day or two late, your petition may be accepted as long as you can show good cause for why it was late.
Generally, if you are still in your marriage, or you are a widow/widower who can show that you entered into the marriage with good cause, the conditions on your permanent residence will be lifted. Other, more rare situations where your request will likely be granted include being a victim of battering by your U.S. citizen (or permanent resident) spouse, or if you are a minor who cannot be included in your parents’ visa for any reason. Normally, this petition must be filed jointly, but if your spouse is no longer in the proverbial picture, you may apply to waive that requirement and still have your conditions lifted.
Enlist Experienced Help
If you are confused or seeking help completing your petition, your best bet is to speak with a qualified immigration attorney. The dedicated DuPage County permanent residence immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to assist, guiding you through what can be a complex process. Contact us today at 630-932-9100 to schedule a free consultation.
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