If you obtained your status as a permanent resident based on a marriage that was less than two years old when you received your status, then chances are your green card expires after only two years. Your status is conditional because the government assumes that if you gained your status before your second year anniversary of marriage to a permanent resident as a result of that marriage, then you probably married your U.S. citizen spouse or lawful permanent resident just for the immigration benefit and not for love. USCIS will give you your status for 2 years thereby requiring you to prove to once again that you married for real reasons and not to evade the immigration laws.
It is your responsibility to file a petition to remove the conditions on your status and in essence, renew your status. USCIS will NOT send you a nice reminder in the mail notifying you of the necessity to file the petition to remove the conditions on your status. It is your job to remember your filing deadline. If you do not apply to remove the conditions in time, you could lose your conditional resident status and be removed from the United States.
By filing a joint petition with the spouse through whom you initially gained your status you have to convince USCIS once again that you married for real reasons and not to evade the immigration laws. You will need documentation to prove that you entered into your marriage and remained in that marriage in good faith. Examples of those documents include but are not limited to the following:
Birth Certificates of children born to your marriage;
Proof of co-habitation such as Deed, Mortgage, Lease/Rental Agreements;
Joint health, car, and/or life insurance;
Proof of commingling of assets and debts such as joint bank account statements, joint credit card statements, and/or joint loan statements;
Joint tax filings;
Complications arise when there is an insufficient papertrail proving that your marriage is real. Problems also arise when you are unable to file a joint petition with the spouse through whom you initially obtained your status. The law does waive the joint filing requirement for several reasons including termination of the marriage due to divorce or annulment and in situations where the petitioning spouse was abusive. If filing jointly, you are required to file your petition to remove conditions during the ninety days before the expiration of your card.
Generally, you may apply to remove your conditions on permanent residence if:
You are still married to the same U.S. citizen or permanent resident after 2 years;
You are a child and cannot be included in the application of your parents for a valid reason;
You are a widow or widower of a marriage that was entered into in good faith;
You entered into a marriage in good faith, but the marriage was ended through divorce or annulment;
You entered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse;
The termination of your conditional resident status would cause extreme hardship to you.
Removal of conditions on permanent residence can go from good to bad in the blink of an eye. These cases are not to be taken lightly and can result in deportation from the United States. It is important that you have a strong case established before your file your petition with USCIS. Gabriela can help you do that. Her goal when filing these types of cases is to get your petition approved by USCIS without a request for further evidence or a personal interview.