What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is administered to foreign nationals who qualify to be United States lawful permanent residents. The Green Card is a photo identification card that proves the Green Card holder’s permanent resident status. A Green card is a prerequisite to become naturalized as a United States citizen. Typically, a Green Card is administered to individuals who enter the United States with an immigrant visa. However, individuals who are already in the United States on a non-immigrant visa may seek permanent residence in the United States by applying for a change of status.

What is a Conditional Green Card?

Conditional Green Cards are granted to certain new immigrants to the United States who have petitioned for lawful permanent residency. A Green Card holder will receive conditional permanent residence status to prevent fraud or misuse of the visa and Green Card process. When an individual is granted conditional permanent residence, he or she must file to remove the conditions two years after receiving his or her Green Card. When conditions are removed from the Green Card, the Green Card holder is granted lawful permanent residency without conditions, renewable every 10 years.

When Does a Green Card Have Conditions?

There are two main situations where a Green Card is issued with conditions, including conditional permanent residency for a spouse married to a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder, and conditional permanent residency for entrepreneurs/investors.

Conditions Based on Marriage

Individuals who obtained a Green Card based on their marriage to a U.S. citizen or U.S. Green Card holder will have conditions put on their lawful permanent resident status that must be removed after two years. Individuals who are the child of someone who obtained a Green Card based on marriage must also remove conditions from their lawful permanent residency.

Conditions For Entrepreneurs

Individuals who obtained a Green Card based on their investment in a United States business, such as EB-5 visa holders, will have conditions put on their lawful permanent resident status that must be removed after two years.

How are Conditions Removed from a Green Card?

The requirements to remove conditions are fairly straightforward; however, different forms need to be filed for conditions based on marriage and conditions based on entrepreneurs. Conditions must be removed from permanent resident status prior to the conditional Green Card’s expiration date, which is two years from the date the Green Card was issued. The Green Card identification document shows the expiration date on its front.

Conditions Based on Marriage

Step One: File Form I-751 with Supporting Evidence

Within 90 days of the Green Card’s two-year expiration date, the married Green Card holder must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence jointly with his or her spouse and submit it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), pay the filing fee, and provide all required evidence and supporting documentation. Evidence is necessary to prove that the marriage is legitimate, and includes photos together, joint financial documentation, and other evidence typically accumulated after two years of marriage.

Children who need conditions removed based on the marriage of their parents can be included on their parents Form I-751 if the children received their conditional status on the same day as their parent.

Step Two: Attend Biometrics Services Appointment

After filing Form I-751, the Green Card holder may also be required to attend a Biometrics Services Appointment with the USCIS. At the Biometrics Services Appointment, the Green Card holder may be required to provide his or her fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature in order to verify the Green Card holder’s identity, obtain additional information, and conduct a background and security check.

Step Three: Attend Interview

Some Green Card holders may be required to attend an interview before conditions will be removed. However, an interview is not required for all applicants. Thus, an individual will receive a notice of the interview time, date, and location if one is necessary.

Waivers for Joint Petition

Under certain circumstances, a spouse or stepparent may not be available to jointly petition with the Green Card holder to remove conditions. In such situations, the Green Card holder can request that the joint filing requirement be waived.

Some circumstances where a waiver may be necessary include:

  • The sponsoring spouse or stepparent died subsequent to a good faith marriage;
  • The sponsoring spouse or stepparent and the Green Card holder got divorced from a good faith marriage, and the Green Card holder is not at fault in failing to file a timely petition;
  • The good faith marriage turned into an abusive situation where the Green Card holder or his or her child were subjected to abuse by the sponsoring spouse or stepparent.
  • The Green Card holder’ deportation or removal would result in extreme hardship.

Conditions For Entrepreneurs

Step One: File Form I-829 with Supporting Evidence

Within 90 days of the Green Card’s two-year expiration date, the investing Green Card holder must file Form I-829, Petition for Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions with the USCIS.

When filing Form I-829, the Green Card holder must submit certain evidence that the Green Card holder has been engaged in investment in the U.S. under the EB-5 visa requirements. This includes evidence of the investment, job creation requirements, or job preservation requirements.

Investment Evidence

The Green Card holder must submit evidence of an active investment in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. with the required amount of capital. This can be proved by:

  • Business organizational documents;
  • Federal tax returns;
  • Audited financial statements;
  • Invoices and receipts;
  • Bank statements;
  • Contracts;
  • Business licenses;
  • Federal or state income tax returns; and
  • Federal or state income quarterly tax statements.

Job Creation Evidence

The Green Card holder must submit evidence that he or she created or will create 10 full-time jobs within a reasonable time. This can be proved by:

  • Payroll records;
  • Relevant tax documents; and
  • Employees’ Forms I-9

Job Preservation Evidence

If applicable, the Green Card holder must submit evidence of satisfying the job preservation requirement by submitting the same evidence as required for the job creation requirement. However, the evidence must show that the commercial enterprise retained no fewer existing employees than it did prior to the Green Card holder’s investment.

What if a Green Card Holder Fails to Remove Conditions?

The failure to remove the conditions of permanent residency will cause the Green Card holder’s status to lapse as soon as the conditional Green Card expires. The Green Card holder would likely have to go through deportation proceedings. Prolonged presence in the United States with a lapsed status and expired Green Card could result in a bar on entry to the United States in the future.

How Long Does a Green Card Last After Conditions are Removed?

Once conditions are removed, the Green Card holder enters lawful permanent residence status, which does not lapse. However, after conditions are removed, lawful permanent residences must renew their Green Card identification document every 10 years according to the expiration date listed on the Green Card.

How Much Does it Cost to Remove Conditions?

The cost to file Form I-751 is $595.

The cost of the Biometric Services Appointment is $85.

The cost to file Form I-829 is $3,750.