Marrying a U.S. citizen or green card holder brings many benefits aside from the joy of starting your married life together. You may have endured some time of separation while waiting for approval for your conditional status. Now that you are together, you have much to look forward to in your future here in Texas. However, your transition to lawful permanent resident of the U.S. is not quite over.
If you entered the U.S. on a visa for the purpose of marrying a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, your lawful status in the country is conditional. This means you have a deadline for having those conditions removed. The process can be complex, and it is critical that you begin in a timely manner to avoid losing your privilege of remaining in the country.
Those who enter the country lawfully to get married receive conditional status to prevent fraud. One of the most common ways in which newcomers to the country abuse the U.S. immigration system is by marrying a citizen for the sole purpose of obtaining lawful status and the benefits that go with it. This is fraud, and the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services take it very seriously.
Applying to remove conditions
You will have two years from the time you receive your conditional green card to apply for the removal of conditions. In order to have the conditions removed, one of the following must be true after two years:
- You are still married to the same person
- You married with no intention of defrauding the government, but your spouse died before your conditional status expired.
- You married with no intention of defrauding the government, but the relationship did not last, and you and your spouse divorced or annulled the marriage.
- You were the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of your spouse.
Within 90 days before the expiration of the conditional green card, you must apply for the removal of your conditions. If you are still married, your spouse must apply with you. If you are no longer married for any of the reasons listed above, you may submit a request for the waiver of the requirement to file jointly. In fact, in the case of divorce, widowhood or abuse, you may be able to apply for removal of conditions at any time before your green card expires.
Because there are numerous intricacies and exceptions to the rules for the removal of conditions, it is wise to have the help of a legal professional who has experience in immigration law.