21 Nov 2019 No court order required to terminate “CR” status
When a person marries, and is petitioned by, a U.S. citizen, they are given a conditional resident (CR) temporary green card, if they have been married for less than two years to the U.S. citizen. At the end of that two-year conditional time period, they must file a joint petition (or waiver of the joint petition) to remove conditions.
Sometimes, the person never took steps to terminate their “conditional status.” Maybe they got divorced within two years of marriage, and did not pursue a joint petition. Maybe they were unaware of the requirement that they need to remove the conditions on their conditional green card.
However, if a person is still under a “conditional” green card, they are prohibited from adjusting status through any other basis (such as marriage to a different U.S. citizen), unless they first terminate their original conditional green card. There have been many cases where a person with a CR green card was denied adjustment of status through different petition because their CR status was still pending.
In the past, USCIS took the position that the only way such a person’s CR status could be terminated was by an immigration judge, by having the person be placed in deportation/removal proceedings. Imagine that: a first marriage did not work out and ended in divorce. The person marries another U.S. citizen who petitions them, but in order to get a green card, they have to be placed in removal proceedings and go in front of a judge! In many such cases, the person couldn’t get USCIS to place them in removal proceedings so they could remove the conditions.
Recently, USCIS announced a very favorable change in policy for those people stuck in CR status: it is no longer necessary that an immigration judge be the one to terminate the person’s CR status before the person may file a new adjustment application based on a new and different petition. Instead, USCIS itself can terminate the alien’s previous CR status, enabling them to adjust status, provided they have a new basis to adjust (such as a new and different petition) and are otherwise eligible to adjust in the U.S.
If you were in CR status based on a previous marriage that did not work out, and your CR status was never terminated, this change in policy could be very helpful, as you would no longer be required to go in front of a judge to terminate your CR status. However, you still need a new and different basis to get a green card and be otherwise eligible to adjust status in the U.S. If this situation applies to you, you should seek the advice of an attorney, who can evaluate your situation and determine if this change in policy can benefit you.
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