Conditional permanent residency is the status given to newly married spouses of U.S. citizens. It is "conditional" because the status must be removed at the appropriate time. Once the conditions are removed, the foreign national spouse becomes a permanent resident.
Who is required to have conditional permanent residency?
A spouse of a U.S. citizen is granted conditional permanent residency when he or she obtains permanent residency in the United States within the first two years of marriage.
What is "Removal of Conditions"? What is the I-751 Form?
The I-751 form is the document that a foreign national must submit to the immigration agency to change from a conditional permanent resident to a permanent resident. "Removal of conditions" refers to the transformation from conditional permanent resident to permanent resident.
Why does the government require spouses to only have conditional permanent residency?
The U.S. government requires conditional permanent residency for newly married foreign nationals because it believes it is the best way to combat immigration marriage fraud. Immigration marriage fraud refers to an intent to enter into a marriage for the sole purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.
When is a conditional permanent resident required to file a I-751 Removal of Conditions Form?
In a typical marriage, a conditional permanent resident is required to file a I-751 form during the ninety days leading up to the two year anniversary of the foreign national obtaining conditional permanent residency. In certain circumstances, a conditional permanent resident may file the I-751 form before the two year anniversary.
What happens if a conditional permanent resident does not file an I-751 Form?
If a conditional permanent resident does not file for the removal of conditions at the appropriate time, the conditional permanent resident may face cancellation of permanent residency status and removal from the United States.
Is there an I-751 interview?
Yes, if a conditional permanent resident files an I-751 form jointly with his or her spouse, they will be required to attend an interview similar to the interview that occurred when the spouse sought permanent residency. An interview may also be required when a waiver to the joint petition is filed.
What if my spouse refuses to sign the I-751 form? What if my spouse refuses to attend the interview?
In certain situations, a U.S. citizen spouse may refuse to file a joint I-751 form or attend the removal of conditions interview. In such circumstances, it may be possible for a conditional permanent resident to file a waiver to the joint petition I-751 form. Due to the complicated nature of a removal of conditions waiver, it is highly suggested that an attorney's assistance be sought before filing.
What if a conditional permanent resident is divorced?
If a divorce occurs within the conditional permanent residency period, the foreign national spouse is eligible to apply for a waiver to the joint I-751 form. However, to increase the likelihood that the waiver is granted, it is highly suggested that an immigration attorney is consulted before a waiver is sought.
Does time spent as a conditional permanent resident count towards the permanent residency time needed for naturalization?
Yes. Thus, for example, a foreign national spouse who remains in a viable marriage is often able to become a U.S. citizen three years after first obtaining conditional permanent residency.