Green card holders are lawful permanent residents of the United States. Most of them only need to submit paperwork to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to extend their stay in the country once every 10 years. They can work jobs, marry and even help family members immigrate.
However, not every green card is the same. Some lawful permanent residents have conditional green cards. There are limits that apply to those who enter the country by virtue of a marriage with a citizen or permanent resident if the marriage has lasted for less than two years at the time of their entry, for example. The conditions on their green card help prevent abuses of the marital and fiancé visa programs.
Those with a conditional green card will need to file paperwork jointly with their spouse with the USCIS sooner than someone with a standard green card. Conditional green cards are usually given to those who enter the country for marriage with a K-1 visa or through marriage.
Conditional status lasts for two years
When the legal grounds for someone’s lawful presence in the United States relate to a marital relationship or an engagement, they will need to demonstrate a good faith commitment to that relationship by remaining married after entering the country.
Typically, those with a conditional green card will need to stay with their spouse and remain in the United States for two consecutive years. They can then apply to remove the conditional status from their green card by filing joint paperwork with their spouse. Any stepchildren with conditional green cards related to a parent’s marriage to a United States citizen will need to fulfill the same process.
There are exceptions to this process that apply when a spouse dies before the two-year period passes. In some cases, those who divorce can still remain in the country, such as when they file for divorce because of abuse. Most people with conditional green cards will need to remain married for at least two more years after entering the country if they want to secure a standard green card.
Learning more about the conditional status on green cards related to marriage may benefit those who require a fiancé or marriage-based visa and allow them to make more informed decisions about their rights and options accordingly.