Foreign nationals who obtain green cards based on marriage to a U.S. citizen receive conditional permanent residency if the green card is issued before the second wedding anniversary. This means their residency is only granted for two years. Otherwise, residency is as the name implies: permanent.

Conditional permanent residents must file Form I-751 to remove these conditions before the two years expire. If they do not, residency is terminated and they risk being placed in removal proceedings. There are three ways to remove conditions on residency:

  • FIRST, the foreigner can apply based on a continued “happy marriage." With this option, foreigne nationals file a joint petition to remove the conditions with their spouse. They will need to submit proof that they continue to live together. Photos, leases, mortgages, bills in both names, documents demonstrating a child born to the couple are all acceptable evidence for a “happy marriage" application for removal of conditions.

  • SECOND, the foreigner can apply based on divorce. In this case, foreign nationals must demonstrate that although they entered into the marriage with the intent of remaining together forever, the relationship has now been terminated. The applicants will need to supply the same evidence of a “happy marriage" as they did in option one, but will also need a final divorce decree or judgment.

  • THIRD, the foreigner can apply based on having been the victim of battery or extreme mental cruelty by their spouse. For this option,foreign nationals must provide evidence that they were a victim. Some immigration attorneys work exclusively with domestic violence VICTIMS. For example, this author does not represent foreign national ABUSERS who have been convicted of domestic violence offenses. The types of evidence needed for this third type of case include affidavits, police reports, hospital records, and reports from experts --- such as therapists or clergy.

When foreigners file the petition, they will receive a letter granting them a one-year extension while the application is pending. It is extremely important that applicants file with the assistance of an attorney so that they can prepare the correct evidence and improve the chance of a quick approval.

Although the author is a Board-certified immigration expert, this guide is intended as general information and not specific legal advice. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Schedule a consultation with an attorney to address individual concerns.