Foreign nationals who have been married less than two years when they become permanent residents in the U.S. through marriage initially receive conditional green cards. While such green cards are only valid for two years, instead of 10 years, they grant the same rights and responsibilities available to other permanent residents, and the time one spends in conditional status can be counted toward citizenship. Within a three-month period prior to the conditional green card’s expiration, the green card holder must convert it into a regular green card or risk losing their permanent resident status completely.
In most cases, removing conditions is a simple and painless procedure that involves nothing more than filing out an application. Since the application generally must be filed by both spouses, green card holders whose marriages have fallen apart or whose spouses have died may find the process daunting. Many divorced or widowed green card holders even fear that since they are no longer married, they will not be able to remove the conditions from their green card at all, and will be forced to return to their country of origin.
Good News for Widowed and Divorced Conditional Green Card Holders
While death and divorce take their toll on all involved, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for conditional green card holders in these circumstances. In fact, death or the dissolution of the marriage underlying the original immigration petition does not necessarily prevent the removal of conditions. The USCIS will remove the conditions from green cards of divorced or widowed foreign nationals who meet the following criteria:
- The marriage was entered in good faith, but the U.S. citizen spouse died prior to removal of conditions
- The marriage was entered into in good faith, but ended due to divorce or annulment
- The marriage was entered in good faith, but the immigrant spouse or children were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse
- Removal of the permanent resident spouse would cause extreme hardship
If you need a strong advocate to shepherd you through the process of removing the conditions from your green card, contact the Law Office of Maud Poudat, P.A.