US Conditional Residence and Citizenship

If you are a green card holder hoping to become a naturalized citizen of the US, you will need to meet a number of requirements to qualify. Among those requirements is a residency requirement, which is intended to ensure that you live in the US for a specific period of time as a permanent resident before you apply to become a US citizen. However, if you had a conditional green card for the first two years that you were in the US with a green card, you may wonder how this conditional residence will affect your citizenship application.

In most cases, green card holders must wait for five years after becoming green card holders to apply for citizenship. In the case of someone who is married to a US citizen, the wait time may be only three years.

Conditional green card holders are often entrepreneurs or married to US citizens. They get a conditional green card for two years and enjoy the same privileges and rights as other permanent residents. However, the green card is conditional and after two years the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can review the green card status. Unless the green card holder applies to remove the conditions of the green card before the green card expires, the permanent status can expire. This is not the case with a traditional green card, which offers permanent status.

The good news is that in most cases the two years spent as a conditional green card holder in the US do usually count towards residency requirements when applying for citizenship. The one condition is that you must have successfully become a permanent resident by the time the two years of green card status expire. This means that you will need to have filed Form I-751 or Form I-829 to remove the conditions of your green card before your status expires. You must also have received approval from the USCIS to get the conditions removed.