U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues two types of green cards. One is the 10 year green card and the other one is the two year conditional green card. While ten year permanent resident cards can be renewed every ten years, two year cards that come with conditions cannot be renewed.
If a ten year green card is set to expire, the card holder can file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, to get the card renewed and to get a new card valid for another ten years. But there is no option to renew a conditional green card.
Conditional green card holders will need to apply to remove conditions on their cards. A 10 year green card can be renewed even after its expiration. But this is not the case with conditional cards.
Conditional green cards are generally granted to the husband or wife of U.S. citizens who are newly married. The sole purpose for many foreign nationals to get married to U.S. citizens is to get a green card and settle in the U.S. USCIS doesn’t encourage this practice and strives to put an end to marriage fraud. To make sure permanent resident status is granted to only to people whose marriages are genuine, USCIS issues two year cards with conditions. Husbands or wives of U.S. citizens with conditional cards can remain in the U.S. for two years. When the conditional period is about to end, they will need to file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This is to remove conditions on their status and to change their status from conditional permanent resident to legal permanent resident.
USCIS also requires the couple to file the application to remove conditions together. Conditional residents need to file the form jointly with their U.S. citizen husband or wife. This requirement is to make sure that the conditional resident is still living with the U.S. citizen who he or she is married to. The couple will have to submit documents establishing the genuine nature of their wedding.
It is important to remember that the I-751 application must be filed 3 months before the expiration of the conditional status. Conditional residents are likely to be deported from the U.S. if they fail to get conditions on their status removed.
The requirement to file the application jointly with the U.S. citizen husband or wife may be waived in certain cases where:
- the conditional resident is a victim of domestic violence or was abused by the U.S. citizen husband or wife
- if the U.S. citizen sponsor has passed away or
- if the U.S. citizen is not willing to sign the I-751 petition
Likewise, USCIS may accept applications filed late if the reasons for filing late are genuine.