What is Conditional Status?
Conditional Status, or “Conditional Residency”, refers to the immigration status given to certain aliens who have entered the U.S. based on a marriage visa. This means that the alien is not immediately granted permanent resident status, even though they might otherwise qualify for it.
The purpose of imposing conditions on residency for marriage-based visa holders is in order to prevent the occurrence of immigration marriage fraud. This type of fraud generally entails the persons entering into a fake marriage arrangement so that the alien can obtain entry in to the U.S. and/or U.S. citizenship.
Thus, conditional status is imposed only on persons who have been married for under two years.
What is Removal of Conditions? Who is Eligible for Removal of Conditions?
A person who entered the U.S. through a marriage-based visa is said to have “conditions” on their permanent resident status. In other words, they are granted conditional permanent resident status on the day that they entered into the U.S.
Removal of conditions is the process by which the non-citizen spouse is granted full permanent resident status. In order to have the conditions removed, they must prove that they did not marry with the intent to evade U.S. immigration laws or agents.
The non-citizen spouse is eligible to apply for removal of conditions if:
- They are still married to the same permanent resident or U.S. citizen 2 years after being granted conditional status;
- They are a child and have a valid reason that they weren’t included in an application of their parents;
- The marriage was entered into in good faith, but then later became subject to a divorce or annulment;
- The marriage was entered into in good faith, but the non-citizen spouse (or their child) then became subject to domestic violence or spousal abuse by the U.S. citizen spouse
- Termination of the current residency status would cause extreme hardship to the applicant
For each of these different categories, different types of proof may be required by immigration authorities.
How Much Does it Cost to File for Removal of Conditions? How Long Will it Take?
Removal of residency conditions needs to be filed for during the 90-day time period before their green card expiration date (this is usually two years after they were first issued a green card). The applicant needs to file using USCIS form I-751 “Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence”.
Form I-751 has a filing fee of $505.00. It may also include an additional fee for other costs such as biometric finger print scans, if this is being requested. Immigration fees can be subject to change over time.
The process for removal of residency conditions may take up to several months to complete, depending on the background factors involved in each case. The applicant may be required to attend hearings before an immigration judge and/or interviews regarding the marriage. This can require the services of a lawyer, especially if the green card holder needs to appear in an immigration court.
Denied applications for removal of conditional status can sometimes be appealed. The appeal may be requested within 30 days after the denial of the removal of conditions. However, the appeal should be processed promptly, since the person may be subject to a removal (deportation) order if the Form I-751 has been denied.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Removal of Conditions?
The removal of residency conditions can often be a complex process. It may require additional documentation, such as proof of the wedding vows, evidence of hardship, or other documents. You may need to hire an experienced immigration lawyer for help with the Form I-751. Your attorney can review all the material to ensure that you’re fulfilling the requirements, and can represent you in court if you need to attend an interview.