Conditional Green Card: The Difference Between Conditional and Permanent Residents

Conditional Green Card: The Difference Between Conditional and Permanent Residents

As a foreign national recently married to a U.S. citizen, you will apply to become a permanent resident in the United States. When you receive your marriage green card, you may notice that you were given a conditional permanent residency card. Your conditional green card lets you begin your new, married life in the U.S., but as the name suggests, your green card has conditions.

What Is the Difference Between A Conditional and Permanent Resident?

Just because you have a conditional green card does not mean you are not a resident of the United States. Rather, you have the same rights with extra steps to become an official permanent resident.

If you have a marriage-based green card and have been married for less than two years, you will get an official conditional green card, also known as a CR-1 visa. “CR” means you are a spouse of a permanent resident. You may see the CR6 green card category on your permanent residency card, indicating you are a conditional permanent resident.

As a conditional permanent resident, you will have the same rights as a permanent resident. There are no green card restrictions, including temporary green card travel restrictions; instead, you need to petition to remove the conditions of your residency to become a permanent resident.

Being a conditional resident does not discount your marriage nor does it limit your rights as a resident. The only difference is a conditional green card is only valid for two years. After the two years of having your temporary resident card, you will then need to apply for an adjustment of status for permanent residency.

Why Do I Have Conditional Citizenship?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) reviews your marriage after two years to verify that is it bona fide, or of good faith. Although marriage fraud is extremely uncommon, there is still an active effort to eliminate fraudulent marriages. Conditional citizenship allows for a revisit into the authenticity of your marriage.

Who Gets Conditional Green Card?

A foreign national who has been married to a U.S. citizen for less than two years. For K-1 fiancé green card holders who will soon adjust their status to a marriage-based green card, the same process applies as they will have been married for less than two years.

Who Does Not Get Conditional Green Card?

If you have been married for two or more years before arriving in the United States, you do not need to go through the process of changing a temporary green card. All you need to do is renew your permanent residency card every 10 years.

Process from Conditional Green Card to Permanent Resident

To make the transition from a conditional green card holder to a permanent resident, you and your spouse must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. It is a requirement that you and your spouse both file the form. However, under certain circumstances such as a death of your partner or a divorce, you may still be able to file for permanent residency. Speak with your immigration attorney if you find yourself in a situation that requires additional attention and forms.


  • Form I-751 is a joint form, meaning both spouses must file and sign the form
  • The form needs to be submitted in the 90-day period before the conditional green card expires
  • Pay the filing fee
  • Provide a front and back copy of your conditional green card


The purpose of the conditional green card is to stop marriage and immigration fraud in the United States. Form I-751 allows the USCIS to reevaluate your marriage. Therefore, you must provide evidence that clearly shows your marriage is genuine and of good faith, not just for permanent residency. Evidence you can include with your form includes:

  • Photos
  • Joint documents such as joint bank statements, a mortgage, etc.
  • If you have children, a copy of their birth certificate
  • As many documents as you can from the start of the marriage to present day

You also need to provide evidence if you are involved in circumstances outside of the usual green card removal of conditions requirements, such as:

  • An explanation for why you are filing late
  • Dispositions on criminal documents
  • A description of why you are not filing with your spouse
  • Death certificates
  • Divorce or annulment decrees

The more evidence you can supply proving that your marriage either is in good faith or was intended to be in good faith, the better your chances are of proving to USCIS you should be granted your permanent residency card. We can help you collect and organize evidence to send in with your I-751 form.


It costs $595 to file the form itself. You also must pay an additional $85 for your biometrics service.

Direct Filing Address

You will submit your form and all the additional documentation needed to file Form I-751 to Phoenix, AZ. The address you send your form to depends on your shipping method. Since you want to make sure USCIS will receive your petition in the 90-day period, speak with your immigration attorney about when the best time is to schedule your shipment.

How Long Does It Take to Remove Conditions on Green Card?

A conditional green card lasts for two years.

You have 90 days before your conditional green card expires to file your Form I-751. Applying to remove conditional green card restrictions needs to be timed well. If you apply for removing conditions on green card before the 90 days, your petition will be returned. If you file too late, you will be denied.

What Happens If My Conditional Green Card Expires?

If you do not remove conditional green card restrictions in the 90-day period before your green card expires, you can be put in removal or deportation proceedings. The consequences of having an unlawful presence in the United States can lead to deportation and being banned from re-entry into the U.S.

Why Did My Conditional Green Card Removal Get Denied?

It is not typical for a request for green card removal of conditions to be denied. When denial does occur, it is because the USCIS suspects that you do not have a genuine marriage and have committed immigration fraud. Other reasons for the denial are because the application was not filed on time or there is not enough evidence that proves you and your spouse are in a bona fide marriage.

Contact an Immigration Lawyer Today

The experienced immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. have been helping married couples petitioning for permanent residency for over 30 years. Both marriage and immigration are transformational steps in life. We want to help you make sure your transfer between being a conditional and permanent resident is as simple as possible. The timeline to remove conditions on green card is short. We will make sure everything you need is in order so you can make the adjustment to permanent resident. Contact us at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online contact form today.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!