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What is conditional permanent residence?

There is such a thing as a “temporary” green card. To some, this may seem like an oxymoron, given that a green card is supposedly proof of permanent residency.

Despite this, temporary green cards do exist, and US citizenship and Immigration Services calls this status “conditional permanent residence.” Persons the US government subjects to this status must file a petition before the conditional status expires.

Who does the US government subject to conditional permanent residence?

The most common use of conditional permanent residence is in reference to marriage. Traditionally, if a US citizen marries a non-US citizen, the non-US citizen then holds conditional permanent residence for 2 years.

The other common use of conditional permanent residency is for individuals who are in the United States as entrepreneurs. They also have conditional permanent residency for a period of up to two years.

How does conditional permanent residence change to permanent residence?

Within 90 days of your conditional permanent residence certificate expiring, you must petition the US government to change your conditional permanent resident certificate into permanent residence. If you have conditional permanent residency due to marriage, you must fill out form I-751. If you have conditional permanent residency due to entrepreneur status, you must fill out form I-829.

It is possible for an individual with conditional permanent residence status due to marriage to transition into permanent resident status even if he or she divorces the US citizen prior to applying for the status change. Generally, the chances for this are best if the non-US citizen petitioner has proof that the US citizen acted in bad faith during the marriage (for example, engaging in adulterous behavior).