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Trying to understand the path to citizenship in the U.S. with color-coded cards and frightening expiration dates can make things quite confusing for the uninitiated.
A temporary green card is usually the first step on the path of obtaining United States citizenship. Thus, it brings a lot of questions to the surface regarding the 'temporary' aspect as well as how to renew it once it expires.
In this article, you’ll learn everything about temporary green cards, from how to get one to what their renewal process entails.
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Temporary Green Card—Explained
As it says on the tin, a temporary green card works exactly the same as a regular green card does, and it even looks almost the same.
Considering functionality, a temporary green card allows its holder —or otherwise called the beneficiary— to live and work in the U.S.
However, it's important to understand that it is not a U.S. passport, and it won't function like one. Keep your passport with your temporary green card because you'll need both whenever the need to cross the border arises.
Also, similar to a regular green card, the duration of time spent in the U.S. on a temporary green card will count towards the years of residency required for you to become a United States citizen. The duration of the stay should be from three to five years according to the conditions of your case.
The main difference between a regular green card and a temporary green card is an expiration date of two years for the temporary one.
The trick here is getting the conditional status on your green card removed in order to be valid for a longer period of time.
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The Process of Getting a Temporary Green Card
If you're thinking about immigrating to the U.S., taking a look at temporary green cards is the way to go. This brings us to the million-dollar question: how do I get one and am I even eligible to apply for one? Depending on your situation, the steps you need to take will differ slightly. But, overall, it'll follow the straightforward path discussed below.
As of now, there are two main states that would make you eligible for a temporary green card. The first —and most obvious— is getting married to a U.S. citizen. The second category is being an EB-5 investor.
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The first step in the process is getting an immigrant visa.
Of course, with the percentage of issued immigrant visas dropping by 12%, it won't be an easy thing to accomplish. However, there's a variety of different immigrant visa categories with different limitations, so make sure you chose one that fits your case.
On a brighter note, if you're a newlywed spouse to an American citizen, you'll get to bypass the trouble of limited available visas as there's no limit to the number of visas available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
Getting Your Immigrant Visa Number
After going through the grueling process of getting an immigrant visa, it's crucial that you get an immigrant visa number.
It's proof that there's an immigrant visa issued with your name on it, and that it's allocated to you.
This number is essential in order to complete your permanent residency application. It helps you to keep in touch with the U.S. State Department’s National Visa Center because it's the issuing entity of these visas.
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The Temporary Green Card Renewal Process
Once you see that your expiration date is approaching, getting your green card renewed will depend on the two conditions of eligibility discussed earlier.
But regardless of which category you fall into, starting your renewal process (otherwise called 'removing the conditional status') six months in advance is the way to proceed.
In some cases, 90 days is enough time, however, we always like to advocate for playing it safe with governmental deadlines.
Removing the Conditional Status—Entrepreneurs/EB-5 Visa Holders Edition
You’ve already proved that your entrepreneurial prowess is good enough to be granted a temporary green card. So, fulfilling the same requirements for a second time shouldn't cause you too much effort.
You'll have to prove that:
Your investment in your current business —which granted you the initial conditional resident status— is legitimate, and wasn't just a cover to trick U.S. immigration officials.
The required capital you originally stated you'd invest in your business has been actually invested.
You're actively involved in this business, and not just running things by proxy.
Your enterprise generated —or currently on its way to generating— 10 jobs for U.S. citizens.
The form to file in your case would be Form I-829 in order to remove the conditional status of your green card and turning it into a regular one.
Removing the Conditional Status—Marriage Related Edition
Just as the entrepreneurs need to prove themselves, if you're in this category, you'll also need to prove that your marriage to your spouse is genuine and not just a means to an end.
Unlike the EB-5 filing process, which can be individually filed, both spouses will need to file Form I-751. This form is basically a petition to remove the conditions of residence.
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Last Stop: From Temporary Green Card to Permanent Residence
This is the fun part. After going through this whole process, you'll finally get a receipt notice confirming that your filing has been received and is now considered complete by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
This document is worth its weight in gold, so make sure you treat it as such. Guard and store this document in a safe place after making physical and digital copies of it.
At this stage, your case is in progress and being reviewed for next steps. Afterward, you'll be invited by the USCIS to a biometrical appointment and an interview.
Once your interview is over, the process is complete. They'll make a decision regarding your case and inform you whether your permanent residency has been granted or not.
Take Action For Yourself
Now that you know what a temporary green card is and what the process of getting one looks like, you're ready to take the next steps. Figure out when the expiration date is and make plans to start the renewal process for removing the conditional status. Once you complete this, you’ll be well on your way to getting settled in the United States.