For those who have seen the movie The Proposal, the Green Card process can appear easy to navigate, if somewhat prone to hilarious hijinks. While the movie is entertaining, the topic itself is a relevant one — especially with the current heavy focus on immigration in the U.S. One of the biggest concerns is that people are getting married strictly for immigration purposes. The government, as you may imagine, does not support this, and they are cracking down on permanent residency applications in an attempt to minimize marriages for immigration.
One way the government is attempting to curtail marriages strictly for immigration is by putting time limits and qualifications on the process. If you have been married for less than two years when you submit your permanent resident (Green Card) application, permanent resident status will be considered conditional. The initial Green Card will only be valid for two years. At the end of that period, the Green Card holder will have a 90-day window before the card’s expiration to apply for removal of conditional resident status.
Removing Residency Conditions
If you and the citizen or permanent resident are still married, the application process is a fairly straightforward one. You and your spouse will need to submit a joint application (including any children on that application, if they are not citizens). A Green Card with conditions on permanent residence automatically expires two years after it was issued, and it cannot be renewed. If an application to remove residency conditions isn’t submitted in the 90-day window before your Green Card expires, the card will expire and the process to remove you from the country will begin automatically. Fortunately, the application process does take into account certain special circumstances.
If you and the citizen/permanent resident are no longer married, you may still be able to have the residency conditions removed and get a new Green Card. In the case of annulment or divorce, you can still file for the change of status. The key difference is that during the application process, you will need to show that you entered into the marriage in good faith. We suggest working with an immigration lawyer for help showing that you did not marry your former spouse just for immigration benefits.
Likewise, widows and widowers of U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply for removal of residence conditions without joint-filing. Again, you will need to show that you entered into the marriage in good faith. You also cannot have been divorced or legally separated at the time of death. In addition, you lose eligibility from the deceased spouse if you have remarried.
There are also measures in place to help Green Card holders who have been victims of abuse or extreme hardship at the hands of their citizen/permanent resident spouse. There are forms available so you can file for the necessary change of status without joint-filing.
Navigating permanent residency with conditions can be complex, and now more than ever, the government is scrutinizing cases to see if a marriage was entered into for immigration. If you’re nearing that 90-day window and need to apply for a change of status, an immigration lawyer can help you navigate the hurdles along the way. Contact the Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC. for this and other immigration services in The Bronx and around New York City.