If a foreign national is married less than two-years to a U.S. citizen, he or she will get a conditional green card upon marriage to a US Citizen, which is valid for a period of 2 years. The conditional green card holder will have to apply to remove the conditions of their green card in two-years to obtain a permanent green card (10 year green card). The primary reason the government issues a conditional green card is to ensure that the couple stays married and to verify that it is a bonafide marriage entered into under good-faith.
If upon arriving at the time period to remove the conditions of the green card, the marriage is still intact, then the conditional green card holder will apply for a joint application to remove the conditions. This will require the cooperation of the US Citizen and assumes the parties’ marriage is still intact.
In a joint petition for removal of conditions, there has to be adequate evidence of the marriage still being intact and there is the possibility of an interview with an immigration officer. Applicants should consult with a lawyer and seek representation because this is an important step towards establishing permanent residency.
If the marriage is no longer intact and the parties have separated or filed for divorce, the conditional green card holder’s status is at risk. This is a crucial step and the conditional green card holder should immediately seek the assistance of an attorney to ascertain the next steps to preserve his or her green card.
Generally speaking, if the US Citizen spouse will not cooperate in filing a joint petition to remove the conditional green card holder’s conditions, then the applicant may still be able to obtain a permanent green card. If the applicant can demonstrate that the marriage was entered into by good faith and not to evade immigration laws, then there is still a chance to obtain a permanent green card. This is a complicated and process and an experienced lawyer should be consulted and retained to handle this matter.
If my marriage is “on the rocks” and I have not yet removed the conditions on my green card, should I remove the conditions on my green card through a joint petition before filing for divorce? Or should I file for divorce first and then apply for a waiver to acquire a 10 year green card?
This is a complicated question because it really depends on the specific facts of your case. If your marriage is on the rocks and the conditions have been not removed on your green card, you have to figure out whether you will have your U.S. Citizen spouse’s cooperation in removing the conditions on your green card. Certainly marriages go through trying periods, and the immigration laws do not state that your marriage has to be “perfect” in order to jointly remove the conditions on a green card. You and your spouse could be in marriage counseling for example, but you are still considered married. You should ascertain first whether your spouse will likely cooperate in filing a joint petition with you to remove the conditions.
If you file for divorce first because you do not have your spouse’s cooperation in filing a joint petition to remove the conditions on your green card, it is also true that you will be faced with a higher burden. However, the government understands that some marriages are completely bonafide and entered into in good-faith but can still fall apart, through no fault of either party. Therefore the waiver process is intended to help conditional residents that can make a showing of a bonafide marriage.
The most important rule to remember in this process is that you must be honest and never misrepresent the facts of your marriage. If you have a good-faith marriage, then waiver or no waiver, you are likely to be able to obtain a permanent green card with the right documentation and evidence. Speak to a lawyer today about the specific facts of your case.
If I get divorced and the conditions are removed on my green card, how long will I have to wait to acquire U.S. citizenship?
Generally speaking, a foreign national spouse who acquires a green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen may apply to become a U.S. Citizen after 2 years and 9 months from the date when the spouse acquired his or her green card. However, a divorce will affect this process and the spouse will likely have to wait an additional two-years (assuming the conditions were removed), or a total of five-years from when he or she first acquired their green card.
The aforementioned is not intended to be legal advice. Contact Dream Law attorney Sanjay A. Paul, Esq. for a consultation on the facts of your case.