What is a conditional resident?
A conditional resident is an individual who has been granted a temporary form of lawful permanent residency in a country, subject to certain conditions. This status is typically provided to individuals who are in a qualifying relationship, such as marriage, with a citizen or permanent resident of that country. The purpose of conditional residency is to ensure the authenticity and legitimacy of the qualifying relationship before granting full permanent residency status.
In the context of the United States, for example, the most common scenario involves the spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. When a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, they may be granted conditional resident status, often referred to as “conditional green card.” This status is valid for a period of two years.
To remove the conditions and obtain full permanent residency (a regular green card), the conditional resident must typically file a joint petition with their spouse to demonstrate that their marriage is genuine and continues to exist. The joint petition is usually filed within the 90-day period preceding the expiration of the conditional residency status. If the couple is no longer together due to divorce, widowhood, or domestic abuse, the conditional resident can also apply for a waiver of the joint filing requirement.
It’s important to note that the specific rules and requirements for conditional residency may vary depending on the country’s immigration laws and policies.
What’s the difference between IR-1 and CR-1 visas?
IR-1 and CR-1 visas are both categories of immigrant visas issued by the United States for spouses of U.S. citizens. These visas are intended for foreign nationals who are married to U.S. citizens and wish to immigrate to the United States. The main difference between IR-1 and CR-1 visas lies in the timing of the permanent residency status and the conditions attached to them.
- IR-1 Visa (Immediate Relative – First Preference): The IR-1 visa is designated for spouses of U.S. citizens whose marriages have been ongoing for at least two years at the time of the visa application. This category is known as the “Immediate Relative” visa because it allows the foreign spouse to enter the U.S. with the intention of immediately obtaining a permanent green card. Once admitted to the U.S., the foreign spouse is granted unconditional lawful permanent resident status.
- CR-1 Visa (Conditional Resident – First Preference): The CR-1 visa, on the other hand, is intended for spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married for less than two years at the time of the visa application. The “Conditional Resident” status is given to foreign spouses upon entering the U.S. This means that the foreign spouse is initially granted conditional lawful permanent resident status. The condition is that the marriage is genuine and not entered into solely for immigration purposes.
The key distinction between IR-1 and CR-1 visas is the conditional aspect of the latter. Conditional residents with CR-1 visas are required to file a joint petition with their U.S. citizen spouse to remove the conditions within the 90-day period preceding the second anniversary of obtaining the CR-1 status. This joint petition is meant to demonstrate that the marriage is still intact and genuine. If the couple does not file a joint petition to remove conditions, the conditional residency could be terminated, and the foreign spouse could face potential removal (deportation) proceedings.
In summary, the choice between IR-1 and CR-1 visas depends on the duration of the marriage at the time of application. If the marriage has been ongoing for at least two years, the couple can apply for an IR-1 visa, leading to immediate unconditional permanent residency. If the marriage is less than two years old, the couple can apply for a CR-1 visa, which initially grants conditional permanent residency and requires additional steps to remove the conditions after two years.
How to successfully remove conditions on residence?
To successfully remove conditions on residence, also known as the “conditional” status of a green card, the process generally involves filing a joint petition with your spouse (if you are married) or requesting a waiver if you are no longer married due to divorce, widowhood, or domestic abuse. The goal is to prove that your marriage is genuine and that you continue to have a bona fide relationship with your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to navigate this process:
- Determine Eligibility: Verify if you are eligible to apply to remove conditions. If you have a CR-1 or CR-2 visa, you will need to apply to remove conditions within the 90-day period preceding the second anniversary of receiving your conditional green card.
- Choose the Appropriate Form: You’ll need to file Form I-751, “Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.” This form is used for joint filers (married couples) and includes a section for waiver requests if your marriage has ended or if you’ve experienced extreme hardship.
- Gather Required Documentation: Collect evidence that demonstrates the authenticity of your marriage and ongoing relationship. This may include joint bank accounts, joint lease or mortgage documents, joint utility bills, joint tax returns, photos of you and your spouse together, affidavits from friends and family attesting to your relationship, and more.
- Prepare the Application Package: Assemble your application package, including Form I-751, supporting documentation, required fees, and any other necessary forms. Make sure you carefully follow the instructions provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- File the Application: Send your application package to the appropriate USCIS Service Center, as indicated in the instructions. If filing jointly with your spouse, both of you must sign the petition.
- Receive a Notice of Action (NOA): Once USCIS receives your application, they will send you a Notice of Action (NOA) confirming receipt. The NOA will extend your conditional residency status for an additional 18 months, during which you can continue to live and work in the U.S.
- Attend Biometrics Appointment: You and your spouse (if filing jointly) may be required to attend a biometrics appointment to have your fingerprints taken.
- Submit Additional Evidence (if requested): USCIS may request additional evidence to further establish the authenticity of your marriage or relationship. Be prepared to provide any requested documentation promptly.
- Receive Approval or Interview Notice: USCIS will either approve your petition based on the evidence provided or may schedule an interview to further assess your relationship.
- Attend Interview (if required): If an interview is scheduled, both you and your spouse will need to attend. Be prepared to answer questions about your relationship and provide any additional evidence requested by the officer.
- Receive Decision: USCIS will either approve your petition, granting you a regular, unconditional green card, or may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) if more information is needed. If approved, you will receive your new green card in the mail.
It’s important to carefully follow USCIS guidelines, provide genuine and comprehensive evidence of your marriage or relationship, and adhere to deadlines to successfully remove conditions on your residence. If you encounter any challenges or uncertainties during the process, seeking legal counsel or advice from an immigration attorney can be beneficial.