What if USCIS sends me a 10-year Green Card by mistake? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, an immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.
When you file for a marriage-based Green Card if you’re married to a US citizen or a Green Card holder, and your marriage is less than two years old on the date that the Green Card is issued, then you should receive a 2-year conditional Green Card. But sometimes, the USCIS mistakenly sends a 10-year Green Card. This happens more than you would think.
Now, it’s a black letter rule, and the question that people often ask is, what happens in this scenario? They want to know, how exactly do I tell when I’m supposed to get a 2-year versus when I’m supposed to get a 10-year Green Card? I think that’s important to understand in order to get to the second part of today’s video.
The important thing to remember is that if you receive your Green Card, and if you haven’t been married two years on the date that the Green Card is issued, it’s not when your interview is, it’s not when you filed, it’s when the Green Card is issued, and that’s after your case has been approved. Let’s say you got married on July 1st, 2020, and the Green Card is issued on May 15th, 2022. You would get a 2-year Green Card. But if it’s done a month later, after the 2-year anniversary of your marriage, then you should get a 10-year Green Card. But you’d be surprised to find out the USCIS often messes this up and sometimes sends our clients a 10-year Green Card instead of a 2-year Green Card. Then the question becomes, what do I do?
Well, you could immediately file an I-90 to get a replacement Green Card. In that scenario, you would say, “Look, USCIS, you guys made a big mistake. This isn’t my fault. You should’ve given me a 2-year Green Card.” You probably want to do that. The reason you want to do that is because you want to keep your immigration file clean. You don’t want it to get all messed up. What you also don’t want to do is to never file for removal of condition.
The main takeaway from this video is that if you do get a 10-year Green Card by mistake, you need to treat it as a 2-year Green Card. At that one year and nine-month mark, i.e. in those last three months of your 2-year Green Card, you need to file an I-751, just like you would if USCIS had provided you with a 2-year Green Card. In other words, you don’t get a pass. You don’t have to skip the I-751 just because USCIS forgot to give you a 2-year Green Card and instead gave you a 10-year Green Card. The burden is on you to keep your immigration record clean and your immigration history clean. If you try to apply for citizenship at some future date, and you’ve never removed those conditions, you could find yourself in a little bit of trouble. The naturalization case would most likely be denied or at least administratively closed. In theory, you could get put into removal for never having removed conditions, even though it was the USCIS’s mistake in the first place in giving you the 10-year Green Card. Don’t think you got away with something. Don’t try to be too cute. Just go ahead and notify them that they sent you the wrong Green Card, that it should’ve been a 2-year Green Card, and then here you are filing a timely I-751 petition to remove conditions on lawful permanent residence.
The “Petition to Remove Conditions” is an important step in the process of getting a permanent green card. This document requires applicants with conditional permanent residency and their spouses/partners to file it 90 days before your conditional Green Card expires, or you will have lost this right forever!
Here’s what you should remember:
If you choose to work with us on your Removal of Conditions application, our team of immigration lawyers will walk you through all the required documents and forms so you can file the petition with confidence.
There are only three reasons why your application to remove your conditions on permanent resident status might be denied. These are:
If you want to avoid any reasons for denial, make sure that when you file Form I-751 with USCIS – provide strong evidence of having built a life together and respond promptly to any Requests for Evidence you receive from USCIS.
The documentation that must be submitted with your petition is just as important to the success of this process. These supporting documents will prove that you were married in good faith, and not just because it’s required for your petition to succeed.
Submit copies of the birth certificate of any child(ren) born to the marriage as evidence that you have started a life together.
A child born into marriage will also demonstrate that you and your spouse have a long-term commitment to stay together. But it is not mandatory to have a child.
Submitting documents proving that you have bought things together, share equity in a single account, or taken a loan together is helpful. Examples are joint credit card statements, joint checking and savings account with legit transaction history, joint tax returns, joint loans, and the title of the car indicating joint ownership.
If you both own any real property, make copies of all relevant documents, including the deed showing both owners’ names. Other possible documents are purchase contracts, mortgage account statements, mortgage statements, and property tax bills.
If you are leasing property together, submit the lease agreement. The document must include the names of the conditional permanent resident and the spouse. It is also possible that the lease agreement demonstrates that you are financially responsible but indicate that you and your spouse live there as tenants.
Other supporting documents showing that you are living together include homeowner association bills, utility bills, and repair records.
Traveling as a couple is a great way to strengthen your relationship. Provide evidence with travel records and documentation that you two have traveled together.
Travel records will include plane tickets and boarding passes, rental car or bus tickets, hotel reservations, passports, and bills.
Joint insurance policies showing you or your spouse as the beneficiary are proof of a legitimate marriage. All types of insurance are valid, including dental, health, home, life, auto, and disability insurance.
Relevant documents related to insurance include account opening records, bills or account statements, and insurance policies.
You can submit 10-20 photographs proving that you are a real couple. Examples are wedding photos, special events with family, and travel photos.
The images can become more compelling if you establish that you and your spouse have spent days or weeks attending family gatherings and socializing with the community.
Affidavits are a great way to supplement any of these types of primary evidence. You may supply them with affidavits sworn or affirmed by people who have personal knowledge of your relationship.
Putting conditions on your permanent residency will make you “out of status” as soon as your conditional green card expires. You could most likely be placed in deportation proceedings, and if you start accumulating unlawful presence, you could be barred entry into the US for three or ten years if found guilty. So, avoid this at all costs by submitting an error-free application for the removal of conditions at the right time.
Hope that makes sense. We can help you with it if it doesn’t. Give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you liked this video, we ask you to please share it out on social, that you subscribe to our YouTube channel, and that you join with us, usually at noon Central, where I try to answer as many of your questions related to citizenship and immigration services as possible in under 60 minutes. Thanks a lot, and have a great day.