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Conditional Permanent Residence Status 
and Consequences of Divorce for Immigration purposes

1. The Conditional Permanent Residence Status 

A lawful permanent resident is given the privilege of living and working in the United States permanently. A permanent residence status will be conditional, if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years old on the day the alien spouse was given permanent residence. The alien spouse is given conditional resident status on the day he or she is lawfully admitted to the United States on an immigrant visa or receive adjustment of status. 

The U.S. citizen and alien spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on the alien spouse's residence. They should apply during the 90 days before their second anniversary as a conditional resident. The expiration date on the alien registration card (commonly know as Green Card) is also the date of the second anniversary as a conditional resident. If the U.S. citizen and alien spouse do not apply to remove the conditions in time, the alien spouse could lose the conditional resident status and be removed from the country.

2. The Interview and Denial of the Removing the Conditional Permanent Residence Status

USCIS has the authority to deny the removal of the conditional permanent residence status, in cases where it is clear a marriage was entered into in order to evade immigration laws. These are cases in which marriage was used solely to obtain the Green Card and not for genuine marital purposes.

Under the USCIS procedures, the interview could be waived by the Service Center, in any case it was convinced that the marriage was real. In a situation where the evidence was sufficient to reflect a real marriage, the case could simply be approved by the Service Center without the need for an in-person interview at the local office. 

A case that was questionable in terms of whether it was real may be forwarded to the local USCIS office for an interview. The local offices would conduct personal interviews with the parties to the marriage prior to making a final decision. Some of these cases can be denied without the in-person interview.

3. The Consequences of Divorce for Immigration purposes

A divorce is a legal termination of a marriage. Whether a termination of a marriage is deemed legal, and as a result effective, depends on the law of the state or country where the divorce took place. Generally, if the state law recognizes an action to terminate a marriage as a divorce, a marriage no longer exists between the affected parties for immigration law purposes.

For the most part, physical or legal separation (i.e., a separation formalized by a court) of married parties does not constitute a legal termination of a marriage. This is the case even in circumstances where each party of the marriage has no intention of residing with each other again. However, in some instances, a legal separation may be considered a legal termination of a marriage for immigration law purposes. This occurs when the law of a state or country converts legal separations automatically into divorces after a period of time.  

Generally, if the marriage is terminated by divorce before permanent resident status is granted (i.e., before adjustment of status is granted for those aliens who applied for adjustment), the beneficiary will not be eligible for permanent resident status through this relationship.

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