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What is Conditional Residency?

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If you or a loved one were recently married (within the last two years) to a United States citizen, or if you recently arrived in the U.S., you may be interested in a conditional permanent resident status. Conditional residency is temporary and, as stated, conditional. You will need to have the conditions removed before the temporary residence expires to remain in the country.

Another common reason to obtain a conditional residency is if you are an entrepreneur who is planning to move to the U.S. to start a business. As starting a business typically requires a large sum of money, this is the less common reason for conditional residency.

Timing is everything with conditional residency, so it’s vi0tal to understand what timelines you must follow to successfully remove the conditions to your residence and become a permanent resident.

When Should I Apply To Have the Conditions Removed?

The date of expiration for your conditional residency status will be located on your permanent residence card. The timeline to apply to have the conditions removed is 90 days before the expiration date. You must only apply during the immediate 90 days before expiration to be eligible.

If you fail to file your I-751 before the expiration date or outside of the 90-day window, your application will likely be denied. In this case, the conditional residency will expire, and you will be notified regarding removal proceedings. You may also receive a Notice to Appear at an immigration hearing. When you arrive at the hearing, you will have the chance to review the evidence surrounding your removal and an opportunity to present your reasons.

If you file your I-751 late, a written explanation of why the form was filed late must be included. If it is determined that your reason for filing late is not valid, honest, or strong enough, you may still be denied.

Do I Have to Apply With My Spouse To Have Conditions Removed?

If you are still legally married to the spouse that you legally entered the country with, you must file jointly with them to have the conditions removed. The exceptions to this are if you are no longer married, if your partner is deceased, or if you were subjected to cruel violence at the hands of the permanent resident spouse.

If you are legally married with a divorce or annulment pending, you must file jointly and then prove that your marriage has ended by supplying the final divorce decree or annulment. You can achieve this by filing for a waiver to bypass the spouse requirement in the application process.

Gather all relevant information to fill out your I-751 (with your spouse if required) and determine your required fees by using the fee calculator on the USCIS website.

Interviews and Appeals

In some cases, you may be required to attend an interview before a decision is made to remove your conditions. If so, you will receive a notification telling you where and when to appear for the interview.

If you need to appeal a decision that was made to deny your application, you may be required to attend an immigration hearing. At this hearing, the judge will likely start with removal proceedings. At this time, you can ask that the judge review the denial of your I-751, explain why you disagree along with your experienced immigration attorney and attempt to have the decision appealed and the conditions removed. If the judge issues an order or removal, you will have 30 days from that hearing to appeal this decision.

What if I Have a Criminal Background?

If you have any criminal charges on your record, you must submit additional paperwork with your application. Gather paperwork indicating that the charges were dropped or that you were not convicted of a crime. Or, if you were, what the details surrounding the arrest were, and proving that you have served the required time and or paid fines as part of your punishment.

If you have a criminal case pending, you are generally not a good candidate for having your conditions removed. Speak with your immigration attorney if you feel you are still a good candidate, even with pending charges.

Why is There a Two Year Wait For Removal of Conditions?

The federal government is aware of the fraudulent marriages that arise from people using marriage as a means of gaining access to the United States. By forcing couples to wait for two years, they are trying to rule out the people who get married out of convenience, leaving only those marriages that are valid and honest to apply for removal of conditions.

Think of it as a probationary period, and remember that 90 days before the expiration date is when you should send in your application and all supporting documents to avoid missing the deadline.

Your Fierce and Tireless Advocate

With decades of experience in helping to ensure equality for all, I have a special desire to help immigrants and their loved ones immerse themselves in the United States fully. Without my own personal immigration journey, I may not have the perspective that I have or the endless drive to help my clients with their immigration processes.

Whether it’s deportation defense, applying for and obtaining a visa, or having conditions removed, we are your tireless and fierce advocates when you need it the most.

Contact our office today at (973) 313-5794 to learn how we can best serve you.

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