The United States immigration programs place high regard on keeping families together, but at the same time is very concerned with controlling immigration fraud. That is why there are conditional green cards.
Generally, if you immigrate with the Green Card Lottery, you can have your spouse come with you on the same visa, negating any need for a conditional green card. However, it may be more convenient for you to immigrate to the US first and then have your spouse follow you after you become better established.
Conditional green cards are given to spouses who have been sponsored to come to the United States with their corresponding partners. The purpose of this document is to ensure that the couple is not engaging in a marriage of convenience, an immigration fraud scheme where two people become married only to get immigration benefits instead of to build a life together.
You will be given a conditional green card upon entry to the United States and then 90 days before the second anniversary of your entry to the United States you will have to apply for the removal of conditions from your green card if you wish to stay in America.
You must be eligible to remove the conditions of your green card and fulfill these requirements:
- You must be married to the same person for the entire duration of the conditional status.
- You can also apply to remove the conditions of your green card if you are widowed.
- Another exception is if you were divorced, but the marriage was true.
In order to apply for the removal of the conditions on your green card, you will have to file Form I-751, Application to Remove Conditions on Green Card. This application must be filed within 90 days of the second anniversary of the issuance of your conditional green card.
Green Cards and Citizenship
The Green Card is an immigration document that is proof of an immigrant’s right to live, work, study and travel throughout the United States at will. Although the Green Card expires every ten years, one’s status as a permanent resident does not expire. It is a good idea to renew one’s Green Card whenever it expires or is lost so that you have a document that shows that you are in the United States in a fully legal status.
Although the government does not require permanent residents to carry their Green Cards with them everywhere, they are necessary for applying for jobs and government benefits.
After five years you may be eligible to apply for citizenship. With citizenship you will have the right to vote in federal elections, hold an American passport and the US government has absolutely no right to deport you.
Applying for citizenship involves filing Form N-400 with the USCIS, taking some basic knowledge test and taking an oath of allegiance to the United States.