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Understanding Conditional Permanent Residence

| Aug 15, 2017 | Immigration Law

If you recently entered the United States as either an entrepreneur or as the new spouse of a US citizen, you may have noticed that your permanent residence status is called “conditional.” This essentially means that your ability to stay in the US will expire if you don’t meet certain conditions, so it’s important to understand the basics of conditional status. What exactly is conditional permanent residence status, and what does it mean for your ability to stay in the country? Let’s take a look.

What is conditional permanent residence?

While most permanent residents (or green card holders) get to keep their immigrant status, conditional permanent residence comes with an expiration date of two years. Before those two years are up, you must apply to remove the conditions and become a full lawful permanent resident—or lose your right to stay in the United States.

Who gets conditional permanent resident status?

You may receive conditional permanent resident status in one of two scenarios. In the first, you’re a foreign national who entered the US as an entrepreneur or investor. In the second scenario, you were married to a US citizen for less than two years when you received your immigrant visa or residency status. Each type will need to take a different route to remove the conditions.

What is the purpose of conditional status?

In the case of entrepreneurs, conditional status is like a “trial period” to see whether your business enterprise or venture is genuine (and not just a claim you made to dodge US immigration laws). It gives you time to actively participate in your enterprise, invest capital, and create jobs for US citizens.

When it comes to married couples, the two-year conditional period is meant to distinguish genuine marriages from fake ones. Although you already had to prove a “bona fide” (or legitimate) marriage when you first received your conditional resident status, you’ll have to prove it again before the two year period is up, showing immigration that you did not simply get married for immigration purposes.

How do you remove conditional status?

In either case, you’ll have to file a petition to remove the conditions on your residency within 90 days of the expiration date.

For Entrepreneurs: You must file Form I-829 on time, along with all of the necessary supporting documents. In your application, you’ll have to prove four specific things: that your business venture wasn’t started just to get past US immigration laws; that you invested capital; that you were consistently participating in your enterprise; and that your enterprise created employment for ten or more US workers.

For Marriage: You’ll have to file Form I-751 jointly with your spouse, along with some similar documentation to what you already filed when you first got your visa or green card. This time you’ll have to submit documents covering the marriage period since your entry into the US. You can use documents like bank accounts, joint leases, your children’s birth certificates, memberships, and so on.

What happens next?

USCIS will first notify you to let you know they received your application. You may also be asked to attend an interview, a biometrics appointment (for fingerprinting), or both. After that, all you have to do is await for the decision from USCIS.

If you don’t apply to have your conditional status removed within the time frame, or if your application is denied by USCIS, you may be placed in removal proceedings as a person who may be deportable from the United States. Considering how much is at stake, you should absolutely work with a competent immigration lawyer to complete your petition on time. At the law office of Rotella & Hernandez, we know the immigration system can often be complex and confusing—and we’re here to help you understand it. Get in touch with our dedicated immigration attorneys to maximize your chances at a successful application for full permanent residence in the US.

Please always check the USCIS website for the latest information on forms, applications, and changes in the law, or contact us to schedule your consultation at (786) 571-8472 for our Miami office, and (561) 571-0872 for our West Palm Beach office.