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Conditional Permanent Residence is granted to the spouse of a US citizen when the couple has been married for less than two years at the time permanent residence is approved. Conditional Permanent Residence accords the same rights to remain in the U.S., work, and travel as unrestricted (“normal”) permanent residence does, but only for a two-year period from the date the green card is approved (not from the date of marriage).
90 days before the expiration of the Conditional Permanent Residence period, a window opens for filing of a petition to “Remove the Conditions” on permanent residence. This petition must be filed during this 90-day filing window in order to essentially end this probationary period and obtain a ten-year permanent residence card.
Normally, this petition is filed jointly by the US citizen and Conditional Permanent Resident spouse. However, there are circumstances where the Conditional Permanent Resident spouse can file alone:
- Death of the US citizen spouse;
- Where the couple is no longer together, and the Us citizen spouse was abusive (here, the couple need not be legally divorced); or
- Where the couple is no longer together, but the marriage was “bona fide” – entered into in good faith and was a real marriage (here, the couple does need to be legally divorced for approval – though not necessarily at time of filing).
Some but not all of these petitions result in an interview at a local USCIS District Office (though interviews are more common where the Conditional Permanent Resident spouse files alone).