A marriage-based green card is different than other green cards

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Family Immigration

A green card is a permanent resident card. An immigrant with a green card can potentially remain in the United States of America for the rest of their life. They must continue to meet certain standards. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also requires that they renew their green card every 10 years.

Unless someone makes major mistakes, such as committing crimes while living in the United States or failing to file renewal paperwork, a green card may mean that they can remain in the country permanently. However, not everyone with a green card has the exact same protections.

Some immigrants receive conditional green cards that do not offer permanent resident status for a full ten years. Those who secure a green card through engagement or marriage have slightly different protections than those who obtain a green card through other means.

What conditions limit marital green cards?

Marital green cards offer permanent residence for a shorter time than traditional green cards. Someone who entered the country after marrying a citizen or specifically to marry a United States citizen must remain married for at least two years after securing their green card.

If someone doesn’t comply with USCIS rules, their conditional green card is potentially at risk. A marriage must last at least two years after someone gets their green card for them to remain in the country in most cases. Scenarios involving criminal activity, domestic violence or a spouse’s death may qualify a spouse with a conditional green card for special consideration.

Otherwise, the individual with the conditional green card must remain married until they apply to remove the conditional status from their green card. The card usually expires two years after someone secures it, so they must apply to remove the conditions on their permanent resident status before it expires.

After removing their conditional status, there is no longer a requirement to remain married. Those who divorce after removing their conditional status and securing a standard green card are not at risk of removal from the United States. Their permanent residence does not depend on their marriage anymore.

At the end of the day, those entering the country with a marital green card or a K-1 fiancé visa to get married need to understand the rules if they hope to become lawful permanent residents.