Whether you will get a conditional green card before legal permanent residence status depends on the period of your marriage; if your marriage is less than two years, USCIS will give you 2 years Conditional green card. This will allow you to remain and work in the US for a period of two years. As the name suggests, this card is issued on condition to prove the bonafide nature of the marriage.
A person who is a spouse of a US citizen or legal permanent residence(LPR) of the US can apply for getting a green card after the approval of Form I-130. In addition, the spouse needs to file Form I-485 and an Application to register permanent residence or adjust status. The US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will check whether your marriage is bona fide or not before approving a conditional green card to you.
What will happen after two years of Conditional green card?
After two years of conditional green card, the immigrant, along with his/her spouse, has to file a joint petition of Form I-751, Petition to remove conditions on residence. This petition is filed to remove the green card conditions and issue permanent residence status (or unconditional green card). The purpose USCIS requires the filing of Form I-751 by the spouses jointly is to satisfy that the marriage took place in good faith and is still in good condition.
What will happen if the divorce takes place during the two years conditional green card period?
If your marriage got dissolved during the 2-year conditional period, it would alert the USCIS to do more scrutiny on the existence of marriage in good faith. Since you and your partner cannot file Form I-751 jointly, you need to file a waiver for the requirement of a joint petition. The question is, does USCIS allow you to file Form I-751 without your ex-spouse? Yes, you can file it without your ex-spouse by filing for a waiver.
This will need you to show USCIS that the marriage was legitimate, and you were leading a normal married life before circumstances turned out of control and your marriage could not hold up because of genuine reasons. One of the best ways to show the genuineness of marriage is to show your attempts to reconcile with your partner.
Separation during 2-year Conditional resident card status period
Divorce and separation are not the same things but, they both invite USCIS to increase scrutiny on the legitimacy of your marriage. Divorce is when a marriage is officially dissolved in the eyes of the court. However, separation means that the couples are still legally married but are living apart because of differences between them. In separation, the team has a chance to reconcile the differences and get back together.
During a conditional permanent residence status period of 2 years, if the couple is separated, they can still file Form I-751 jointly within 90 days before the expiration of Conditional permanent residence status. This will help the immigrant spouse to get permanent legal residence status and to remain and work in the US.