What You Need to Know About a 10-Year Marriage-Based Green Card
Learn everything you need to know about the 10-year marriage-based green card process, including an overview of the timeline, how to renew your green card, and what to do if you get divorced.
What is a 10-year marriage-based green card?
Getting a 10-year marriage green card process is a two-step process. It includes a conditional green card, which is valid for two years and a permanent green card, i.e. the 10-year green card. Whereas the conditional green card is valid for two years, you still need to file an application to remove the conditions of your 2-year green card in order to earn your permanent green card.
Who is eligible for a 10-year marriage-based green card?
You may file Form I-751 if you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has a 2-year conditional green card and you are married to the U.S. citizen or LPR through whom you obtained your conditional residency.
I-751 Petition Requirements
There are a few legal requirements for filing a Form I-751 petition for removal of conditions on residence, which is what you’re doing when you want to get married and change the status of your spouse.
First, if you are filing jointly with your spouse, both of you must be living in a marital union. If you are filing separately from your spouse, you must prove that you entered the marriage in good faith.
If filing jointly, you will need to prove that you’ve been married to your spouse during the duration of your LPR status. You’ll also need to prove that your marriage is bona fide—that it’s real, not just a sham to get around immigration laws.
This means that you’ll need to show documentation of your continued marital relationship, such as evidence of joint ownership of assets such as a bank or credit card accounts or utility bills in both names and photos of your time together with family and friends.
I-751 Petition Process
The first thing you’ll want to do is gather your documents. The following are generally required:
- Proof of your legal status in the U.S. (such as a green card);
- Evidence that you have been married for at least two years, such as a copy of your marriage certificate, proof of joint ownership of property or assets, and photos together over the years
You must include Form I-751. You’ll need to pay the USCIS fee with this form. If you’re filing jointly with your spouse, will also need to complete their own section of this form.
After submitting your form and fee payment, you’ll receive confirmation from the USCIS that they’ve received it within three weeks; after that point, they’ll review it and contact you if they have any questions.
What if you’re petitioning to remove conditions without your spouse?
If the marriage through which you obtained your LPR status has ended, you may still file a Form I-751 petition to remove the conditions on your permanent residence requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement. This is also known as Form I-751 with a waiver. It may be applicable in several circumstances.
For example, in order to file for removal of conditions on your green card as a battered spouse, you must meet certain requirements:
You must have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your US citizen/LPR spouse;
You must provide evidence that the abuse occurred during the marriage and continues up until the time of filing; and
You must prove that there are no other factors that would prevent the removal of conditional status (such as abandonment).
Can I work and travel while my Form I-751 for my 10-year green card application is pending?
Yes, you can. However, you should be aware that there are some restrictions on the duration of your stay outside the United States when you are removing the conditions of your green card.
In general, if you are in the process to remove the conditions of permanent residence (also known as a 10-year green card), then you may travel outside of the United States after your Form I-751 has been filed but before it has been approved. However, if you leave the United States during this time period and do not return within six months of your departure, then it may be considered as an abandonment of your application and USCIS will deny it.
How to avoid your 10-year green card application getting denied
The 10-year marriage green card process can be a complex one. If you’re trying to get a 10-year green card, you may be wondering if it’s even worth the time and money to hire an immigration lawyer.
The truth is that your chances of getting your green card can be significantly increased by hiring a lawyer, especially if you have a complicated case or are applying after the marriage has ended. A good lawyer will know how to make sure your case is presented in the best possible light so that you don’t end up being denied because you didn’t prepare the case well —like forgetting to sign one of the forms needed during the application process (a mistake that happens more often than you’d think) – or if you do not meet your legal burden.
If this sounds like something that could happen to you—or if you just want some peace of mind—it’s worth talking with an immigration lawyer before filing anything official with USCIS. Contact IBP Immigration Law today and get an excellent lawyer on your side.