Applicants for permanent residency based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, who have been married less than 2 years by the time the application is approved, will be issued a 2-year permanent resident card and will be designated as a “conditional” resident. Within 90 days of their green card expiring, these conditional permanent residents must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residency. They will be required to provide information and documents showing their initial marriage to the U.S. citizen was genuine. If all qualifications are met, then when Form I-751 is approved, the individual will be issued a 10-year green card, and their residency will no longer be tied to the marriage.
A question often asked is “Can I travel outside the United States if my 2-year card has expired, and I’ve filed Form I-751, but there has not yet been a decision on my case?”
Previously, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued stickers to applicants extending the validity of their green cards. However, those stickers have now been replaced with a revised Form I-797, Notice of Action. Conditional residents who properly file Form I-751 will receive a receipt notice that states their residency has been extended for up to 24 months past the expiration of their green card. This Form I-797, along with the expired conditional green card, is evidence of continued status, and is acceptable for travel.
Conditional residents who plan on being outside of the United States for a year or more however, should apply for a reentry permit by completing Form I-131.
If you or a loved one has questions about their conditional residency, including removal their conditions and/or traveling during this process, call immigration attorney Matt Maniatis at (615) 366-1211.