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US marriage nearly 2 years ago? Remove your green card conditions

If you married a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, your green card status may be conditional. This occurs whenever your lawful permanent residence status depends on a marriage that was less than two years old when that status was received.

If your green card status is conditional, it is absolutely critical that you apply to have the conditions removed before your second anniversary. If you fail to apply during the 90 days leading up to your second anniversary, you could be slated for deportation.

Your green card is essentially conditional upon your showing that your marriage is legitimate -- and not a "green card marriage" intended to thwart U.S. immigration law.

Applying to remove the conditions on your lawful permanent residence status

In most cases, you and your spouse will jointly file Form I-751 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the 90 days before your second anniversary, which should also be the expiration date on your green card.

The USCIS may not remove the conditions before your second anniversary, but don't worry. As long as you file your Form I-751 on time, your conditional resident status and work authorization will be extended.

If you cannot apply on time, you risk deportation. However, you may be allowed to file late under limited circumstances. You will need to write to the appropriate Service Center director with an explanation that you had good cause to file late. The director may approve your late application at his or her discretion.

After the USCIS has processed your application, an interview will typically be set up. At the interview, you will need to show that you entered into the marriage in good faith and are eligible to have the conditions removed from your resident status.

What if my marriage didn't last the full two years?

If your U.S. spouse has died, you are divorcing/divorced, or there has been an annulment of your marriage. you can still apply to remove the conditions as long as you entered into the marriage in good faith. You can also apply without your spouse if, after entering into the marriage in good faith, you or your child were subjected to extreme hardship by your spouse.

If you are no longer married to your spouse or have been battered or abused by your spouse, your Form I-751 can be filed at any time -- not just within the 90-day window before your 2-year anniversary. You will need to provide evidence that being removed from the U.S. would cause you extreme hardship.

For more information or for help with the petition, talk to an immigration attorney.

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