Among the relatives of U.S. citizens that are generally eligible for a green card are spouses. It is important to note though that, sometimes, the permanent resident status granted to spouses of citizens is conditional. Generally, this status is conditional if, at the time it was given, the marriage was less than two years old.

Conditional permanent resident status typically lasts for two years. Generally, at that point, the conditions either have to be removed or the spouse loses his or her permanent resident status.

There is a process for spouses to pursue having the conditions on their permanent resident status removed as their two-year conditional status period nears its end. To start this process, a spouse generally has to jointly file Form I-751 with his or her U.S. citizen spouse (there are a few narrow exceptions to the requirement to file jointly).

There is a specific window for filing this form. The window opens 90 days prior to the end of the two-year conditional status period (there are some exceptions to this) and closes when the conditional status period ends.

Once the form is filed, there are various additional steps the process may involve, including an interview. As a note, sometimes, the interview can be waived. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently issued new guidelines on when officials can waive interviews.

What happens when a spouse that was granted conditional permanent resident status is pursuing having the conditions on his or her status removed is very impactful. Failing to file Form I-751 on time or having one’s request to have conditions removed denied can lead to a spouse losing his or her green card and facing removal from the United States. Skilled immigration attorneys can help spouses with navigating the condition removal process and avoiding common pitfalls.