What is a conditional Green Card?
A conditional green card is valid for only two years, hence it is a temporary green card. It is important to note that a three-month (90 day) window opens up one year and nine months after it is issued, during which you must file another petition for removal of conditions. If you obtained your green card through marriage, then you must file Form I-751 before the date of expiration on your green card.
If an EB-5 investor green card is the basis for the residency, you must verify a few specific things. First, all of the funds have been invested and second, employment has to have been created. For more information on removing your conditions as an investor, please read more here.
When the conditional resident status has been lifted, full resident status is granted and a 10 year permanent green card is issued.
What is the difference between a conditional and a non-conditional green card?
USCIS may grant a conditional green card to an investor who is approved for the EB-5 immigrant visa or to the spouse of a U.S. citizen. This green card must be reissued after two years, however the reissuance is subject to the removal of conditions. After these conditions are removed by USCIS, then it becomes a permanent unconditional green card. Otherwise, the two cards offer the same rights and privileges.
For assistance with your petition to remove conditions on your conditional green card, or for help with any other green card concern, contact our Los Angeles immigration attorneys now for a FREE consultation.
Who is eligible to receive a United States green card?
Green cards can be obtained by many individuals. For example, investors with a valid EB-5 visa, their spouse, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 (child dependents) are eligible to receive permanent green cards. It is possible for adopted children to be included in the family. For more information on investor green cards, please visit our section on EB-5 visas and green cards. Spouses of U.S. citizens can also obtain a U.S. green card. The child dependents of the married couple are also eligible. For more information on a marriage based green card, please read more here. Upon approval, you will receive a form evidencing approval and a travel document. You should also receive a temporary green card in the mail. Your green card is your most important identification and travel document. Inspect it carefully to ensure the information is correct.
For help with any green card concern you may have, please contact us now for your FREE consultation.
How long is my Conditional Resident Green Card valid for?
If you received your green card through investment (EB-5), you should have a conditional green card for two years. Likewise, your marriage based green card is conditional if your marriage has been for less than two years when you obtained the green card. With both types of conditional green card, you must apply for removal of the conditional status within 90 days before the two years are up. Once that is approved, you have a regular unconditional, or permanent, green card. If you apply either too early or too late, you should consult with an immigration attorney for advice so that you may avoid deportation or removal. If you do not have the conditions removed, the green card will become invalid at the end of two years and your permanent resident status will be terminated.
How long is my permanent Green Card valid for?
Unconditional green cards are valid for ten years. You do not stop being a legal permanent resident when the card expires, but the card itself becomes invalid. You must apply for a new one by submitting an application to replace your permanent residence card. Without a current green card, you cannot use the green card to travel out of the U.S. or as evidence that you are permitted to work. Click here for information on how to renew your 10 year Green Card.
What are the benefits of obtaining a United States green card?
With your U.S. green card, you will be automatically granted certain rights and privileges. You can:
- Live and work in the U.S
- Travel in and out of the U.S., as long as you do not jeopardize your residency requirements
- Apply for U.S. citizenship when the time is appropriate
- Permanent residency (without conditions) requires no renewal or re-application.
- Sponsor your spouse and unmarried children under 21 to obtain U.S. residency. (Family members are able to retain the green card even if the sponsor dies.)
- Apply to government-sponsored financial aid for education.
- Work in the U.S. as a student, while you attend college, graduate, and postgraduate school, and may continue to work legally in the U.S. after graduation.
- Work in the U.S. without an employer sponsorship or approved labor certification application with the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Start a business in the U.S.
Can my green card be taken away by the Department of Homeland Security?
Once you receive a green card, there are two conditions required to keep it for life. First, you must not become removable or inadmissible. The most common way of doing this is to be convicted of a serious crime. For more information on removal, please read this section. For more information on inadmissibility, please read more in our section here. The second requirement is that you not abandon the U.S. as your permanent residence.
What is considered establishing U.S. residency for USCIS?
Establishing a U.S. residency usually requires evidence of intent to reside in the country, and includes such things as opening bank accounts, obtaining a driver’s license or social security number, paying state and federal income taxes, renting or buying a home.
What is considered abandonment of permanent residency by USCIS?
It is a common misconception that in order to keep your green card all you need to do is enter the U.S once a year. The law provides that you are free to travel abroad, provided that your trip is temporary. Abandonment of permanent residency can occur due to various reasons. Some of the most common causes are:
- remaining outside of the U.S. for too long
- moving to another country and intending to live there permanently
- failing to file income tax returns while living outside of the U.S
- declaring yourself as a ‘nonimmigrant’ on your tax returns
The U.S. resident may work overseas if required based upon the nature of the business or profession. The USCIS will look at your behavior for signals that your real place of residence is somewhere other than the U.S.
What is required for me to leave the U.S. and still prove that I am a permanent resident?
The most common criterion is time based. There are numerous important time limits to consider:
- If you are absent from the U.S. for less than six months, it is unlikely that you will encounter any problems. It is up to USCIS to prove that you abandoned your residency.
- If you are absent from the U.S. for more than six months but less than a year, the burden of proof reverses and you must prove to USCIS that you are still a permanent resident. It is very important to note that after an absence of more than six months, the various criteria for admissibility apply again. For more information on what may make you inadmissible, please read more here.
- If you are absent from the U.S. for more than a year, without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa, you will likely forfeit your green card.
- If you are absent from the U.S for more than two years after issuance to a reentry permit and without obtaining a returning resident visa, you will forfeit your green card.
I need to travel out of the U.S. for more than a year. Is there anything I can do or show to USCIS to retain my U.S. green card?
Remaining outside the U.S. for more than one year does not mean you have to automatically give up your U.S. green card. If your absence was initially intended to be temporary, you may still be able to keep your permanent resident status. However, you may no longer use your green card as a U.S. entry document. You must either apply at a U.S. consulate for a reentry permit or returning resident visa.
How do I apply for a U.S. re-entry permit to maintain the validity of my U.S. green card?
Before you leave the U.S, you can apply for a re-entry permit. However, please note that there may be a waiting time of six months or longer for the permit to be issued. It may be possible for you to depart before the permit is approved, but you should discuss this with a qualified attorney so that you do not risk your immigration status. Re-entry permits are issued for a period of two years. Although renewing a re-entry permit is not possible, you can return to the U.S. for a short period of time and apply again for a new one. If approved, your second re-entry permit will be granted again for a two year period. It is important to note that your subsequent ones may only be approved for one year at a time.
If you need any assistance in obtaining your re-entry permit or have any other concerns regarding your green card, please contact our Los Angeles immigration attorneys now.
What is the difference between permanent residency with my U.S. green card and full U.S. citizenship?
After you obtain a United States green card, you become a legal permanent resident. This grants you most of the rights and obligations of U.S. citizens, except that you cannot vote, and you are not entitled to some public benefits. You are subject to the same tax filing requirements and entitled to the same tax rates and deductions as U.S. citizens. One of the most important rights that you possess as a legal permanent resident is the right to obtain full U.S. citizenship after five years.
How can my U.S. green card lead to full U.S. citizenship?
You may gain full U.S. citizenship through the USCIS naturalization process. The first step in becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization is to obtain an unconditional green card to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Being a LPR for five years is one of the basic requirements for qualifying for naturalization. A second requirement is being physically present in the U.S. for 30 months during the five years prior to the naturalization application. Once becoming a U.S. citizen, you are entitled to benefits including the right to vote and hold public office. For more information on the naturalization process, please read more here.