Your marriage to an American citizen likely did not go off without a hitch, but you probably expected some glitches along the way. Waiting for your visa to come through and coordinating wedding plans probably created some stressful moments, but now you are married and settled into life in the United States.
Undoubtedly, you are considering the next step in your residency. The conditions on your visa ensure the government that you acted in good faith through your marriage and did not use the immigration process for unlawful entry into the country. So, how do you remove those conditions?
When do I apply for removal of conditions?
Once again, you will have to go through a long process with the immigration authorities to remove the conditions on your visa. Because the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency carefully holds to deadlines, you will want to begin this process in a timely manner and be scrupulous about meeting deadlines. Delays could place your status in jeopardy. You and your spouse can apply to begin this process if any of the following conditions exist:
- You and your spouse are still married and approaching your second anniversary.
- You married in good faith, but your spouse died before your second anniversary.
- You married in good faith, but the marriage did not work out, and you and your spouse divorced.
- You married in good faith, but your spouse was abusive to you or your children.
If you have children who also received conditional-resident status based on your marriage, you may include them when you apply for the removal of your conditions. However, if there is a valid reason why you cannot include your child, he or she will have to file separately.
How does it work?
Within 90 days before the expiration date on your green card, you and your spouse should complete Form I-751. This is something the USCIS requires you to do together as another assurance that your marriage is valid. Missing this deadline could place you at risk of deportation, and you will have to appear at a hearing with a good excuse for missing the deadline or with evidence that you did comply with the requirements.
Once you have completed and filed your application, USCIS will contact you for an interview. During this interview, an agent will ask you questions about your marriage and determine if you are eligible for the removal of the conditions on your status. If all goes well, you will receive your new green card in the mail. If things do not go as planned, deportation proceedings will begin soon afterward. During this time, you will have the opportunity to appeal the decision to deny your permanent status.
For the best chances of completing the process successfully, many immigrants with conditional status seek the assistance of an immigration attorney. It is also a good idea to seek legal help if you are facing deportation after USCIS denied an application for removal of conditions.