Marriage Green Card: From Conditional Resident (CPR) to Permanent Resident (LPR)

If you were granted conditional resident status through marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you will need to petition to remove the conditions before you can obtain your permanent green card.  This petition is typically made in the last 90 days of the two year anniversary of obtaining your conditional green card.

If you are still married at this time, you may petition jointly with your spouse.  If you are separated, divorced or your spouse will not jointly petition with you, you must fall into one of the following categories to self petition:

1. You entered the marriage in good faith, but your spouse subsequently died;

2. You entered the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was later terminated due to divorce or annulment;

3. You entered the marriage in good faith and have remained married, but have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse; or

4. The termination of your status and removal would result in extreme hardship.

The most common situation where a joint petition cannot be filed is where there is a problem with the relationship and the couple is separated and is either in the process of divorcing or is already divorced.  The USCIS will not approve a self petition under the second category above unless the couple’s divorce is finalized at the time of the I-751 interview.  However, this does not mean that the self petition cannot be filed before the divorce is final.  The petition must be filed before the second anniversary of the issuance of the conditional green card.

In the case where the divorce has not been finalized and the deadline is approaching, you may file your self petition and then finalize the divorce.  Processing times are generally about 6 months and if a divorce cannot be finalized in that amount of time, you may be able to obtain an extension.  However, if that extension cannot be obtained or your divorce proceedings drag on, your conditional resident status will be terminated and a Notice to Appear (NTA) will be issued and you’ll have to continue your petition before an Immigration Judge or be removed from the United States.

Recent USCIS regulations will allow the conditional resident who filed a joint petition with his or her spouse to later amend the petition to be  a self petition where the couple separates prior to the I-751 interview.  USCIS will allow up to 87 days to finalize the divorce.