Conditional Permanent Residence and the Impact of Domestic Violence
After a non-immigrant alien enters into marriage with a Limited Permanent Resident or United States citizen, they may be granted entry into the United States as a conditional permanent resident if all proper paperwork is submitted to immigration on their behalf. If granted entry as a conditional permanent resident, the "conditional" status can only be removed after both spouses file correct petitions and engage in interviews through the Attorney General's Office. At these interviews, if the Attorney General's Office determines that the marriage is a "sham" or has been terminated, then the alien's temporary permanent resident status may be revoked.
Often conditional permanent residents in this situation that are subject to abuse feel as if they must stay in the relationship because if they don't they can be removed. However, as a matter of public policy, to avoid this very situation, the United States has made specific exceptions for conditional permanent residents. As long as the initial marriage was not a "sham" (i.e. was entered in good faith), and throughout the marriage the United States Citizen or Limited Permanent Resident abused the alien or was extremely cruel to the alien, the Attorney General has discretion to remove the conditional status and grant the alien Lawful Permanent Resident Status.
A conditional permanent resident who is subject to domestic violence may "self petition" or file their own petition asking that the conditional restriction be lifted for that party and their children, thus allowing them to become Lawful Permanent Residents without further need to fulfill the original condition(s).
As proof, a party seeking to have a condition removed because of domestic violence, should be prepared to show evidence of the physical abuse, such as copies of reports or official records issued by police, courts, medical personnel, school officials, clergy, social workers and other social service agencies. It is generally wise practice to submit any legal documents showing abuse in your possession, including those listed above, orders of protection against the abuser, and those demonstrating what steps you have taken to end or combat the abuse. If your marriage was terminated during your conditional period through divorce, you should include a copy of that decree highlighting that the marriage ended due to physical or mental cruelty. If your petition is untimely, you should also submit evidence demonstrating that you were not at fault for failing to timely file the petition.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may find assistance by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. For more information on whether you qualify for removal of condition based on domestic abuse, you should speak with an experienced Immigration law attorney.