What is a Conditional Resident?
When a couple marries and the U.S. Citizen petitions for his/her foreign spouse, the foreign spouse becomes a conditional resident if the couple had been married for less than two (2) years. For example, let's say that John and Kate married in May 2016 and they filed the petition for Kate right away. Considering that everything goes smoothly, Kate would get her green card in about 4-6 months. But when she gets the green card, Kate becomes a conditional resident with the green card that would expire in two (2) years. This is because John and Kate had been married less than two years when Kate received her green card.
Now, if John and Kate had waited two (2) years before filing the petition, Kate would receive the regular 10 year green card. By the way, all green cards have a 10 year validity date. Just like a driver's license, green card holders are required to renew their green card every 10 years.
As a Conditional Resident, Kate must petition to "remove" conditions on her residency 90 days prior to her two-year expiration date. Generally, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, I-751, is filed together by John and Kate. There are instances where joint petition may not be possible (e.g., divorce, spousal abuse, death, etc.). If joint filing of the petition is not possible, there are still ways for Kate to remove conditions on her residence but that is beyond the topic of this article.
The whole point of the I-751 Petition is to prove that John and Kate entered into the marriage in good faith and that they are still married. The question is whether their marriage is a bona fide marriage. The evidence required to prove this is similar to the initial evidence required to file with I-130/I-485 case.
Some of the documents needed for Removal of Conditions on Residence are:
1. Joint income tax returns;
2. Lease agreements showing both of their names;
3. Birth Certificates of children if they had children born to their marriage.
You can find general information on how to submit I-751 on the USCIS website under Instructions for Form I-751.
But remember that every case is different and your case may have specific issues such as not having children born during the marriage or not having a lease agreement together. There are options for cases like these and it's highly recommend for you to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
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