While most brides and grooms have many details to iron out before the big day, your situation may have been even more complex. Marrying a U.S. citizen or green card holder involved immigration issues that you needed to resolve before you could come to the U.S. and begin your new life. One of the most important steps you had to take was to obtain your conditional residential status.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services does not offer permanent residence status to those coming into the country to get married. This is because many have committed fraud and used marriage as a way to unlawfully enter the country. To avoid this, the USCIS places conditions on your visa. However, after two years, you may apply to have those conditions removed.
Eligibility for the removal of conditions on your status
Applying for removal of conditions is a complicated process, as are most immigration procedures. To begin with, you must apply with your spouse within 90 days before your conditional visa expires. It is crucial not to miss this deadline because USCIS will automatically terminate your visa and begin the process of deporting you.
In order for you to apply for removal of your conditions, you must meet one of the following qualifications:
- You are still married to the same citizen or green card holder when your conditional visa expires.
- You divorced your citizen spouse or had the marriage annulled, but you can prove that you married in good faith.
- Your spouse died in the time between your marriage and your visa expiration.
- You or your children were the victims of domestic abuse by the U.S. citizen spouse whom you married in good faith.
Of course, if you are now divorced, widowed or abused by your spouse, you will not be able to apply jointly for removal of conditions. In this case, you may apply for a waiver of the obligation to appear jointly. In fact, if you are in any of these circumstances, you do not have to wait the full two years to apply for removal of your conditions if you can prove that removal from the country would be a hardship for you.
After you apply
Once you have filed your application, you may receive an appointment for an interview. Meanwhile, you may continue to work under your work permit. You will receive a notification of your approval or denial.
If immigration authorities deny your request for removal of conditions, deportation proceedings will begin immediately. You will have 30 days to appeal the decision. Having the help of a Texas immigration attorney throughout the process may minimize the likelihood of a denial and will certainly provide you with an advocate if an appeal is necessary.