There are two classes of immigrants who are eligible for “conditional residency” green cards thanks to the provisions of Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) and the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA). These two classes consist of aliens who have married US citizens (K-1 visa holders) and entrepreneurs who have agreed to invest a specific amount of money in a targeted area within the US to help alleviate joblessness in that area (E ).
Without question, most of the green cards issued under these provisions go to foreigners who have become the spouse of an American citizen. This is often referred to as the “green card marriage”. The status of Permanent Resident is issued to those who apply for it on a “conditional” basis that is good for a period of 2 years.
A conditional resident can apply to have the conditions removed by submitting an I-485 Adjustment of Status to Immigrant U.S Resident 90 days or less before the end of the 2 year period. Submission of the I-485 automatically extends the conditional residency by 1 year or until the USCIS approves or denies the application whichever comes first.
If the application is approved, the individual becomes a Legal Permanent Resident and is issued a green card that needs to be renewed every 10 years.
Why are these two classes so special?
So why would the government grant “instant green cards” to some while it takes years for others to get approved?
Well in the case of the foreign entrepreneur it’s purely about bringing new investment capital to the US in an effort to reduce the unemployment rate in specific, economically challenged regions of the country. By issuing a conditional residency status to the businessperson, he or she, and their spouse and children, can work and travel freely just like any other green card holder and this is essential for successfully operating a business.
For the foreign fiancé(e) who marries a US citizen it’s all about the American policy that families should not be separated based solely on immigration policies. In other words a husband and wife should not remain separated nor have to live a restricted lifestyle because one is not an American citizen.
Why is the green card “conditional”?
While the government is willing to grant instant green cards to these classes of immigrants they want to hedge their bets by reserving the right to take another look at the individual after they have been in country for 2 years. The purpose of course is to ensure that the person who was issued the conditional residency did so without fraudulent intent.
The businessperson should still be in business and living up to the other terms of the temporary green card and the spouse of the US citizen should still be married. The I-485 that is submitted for an adjustment of status will require information and documentation that the applicant is living up to his or her part of the bargain.
For the spouse that will mean proof of joint financial accounts and joint financial obligations. For the entrepreneur it will mean tax returns for the business and evidence of payment of unemployment benefits insurance to the state in which they operate.
But assuming that the applicants have lived up to the conditions AND have submitted a timely I-485 then they can look forward to Legal Permanent Resident status and even naturalization later on.
Eugene Jones is a principal in www.ImmiGreatNow.com.com which provides web solutions for family Immigration. Eugene is also a principal in www.connect4business.com a lotus domino manufacturing solution and www.nauvou.com.com web based solutions for customer support.