Individuals who have been granted lawful permanent residency through his or her spouse, and within two years of entering the marriage, are usually deemed to be “conditional” permanent residents. Under the law, conditional permanent residents must follow a comprehensive procedure to have his or her conditional status removed. Conditional residents who do not comply with the requirements at the end of the two-year period will normally receive a letter shortly after the two-year period indicating that their residency status has automatically been “terminated” by the Immigration Service. Removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge usually begins thereafter.

Should the alien resident and spouse remain married near the end of the two year period, a jointly signed petition with supporting documents should be filed within ninety days of the second anniversary of the grant of conditional status. Sometimes both spouses will also be required to appear at a personal interview with the immigration service before conditions are removed.

Conditional residents should NOT attempt to remove conditions by way of the I-90 application to renew or replace a permanent resident card. I was retained this week by a client who had been incorrectlyadvised by a non-attorney immigration consultant to file an I-90 application when the client was instead supposed to file an I-751, with supporting documents. They came to see me after their I-90 application had been rightly denied by USCIS. The new client’s wasted time, filing fee of $370 to USCIS, and money spent for the bad advice will unfortunately not be returned to them.  Don’t make the same mistake.

Occasionally marriages terminate prior to the second anniversary. In this circumstance the conditional status can usually still be removed so long as a waiver based upon a bona fide marriage is approved by the Immigration Service. A competent immigration attorney can assist you in successfully having  the conditions on your residency removed.