People often get confused since some people get a two (2) year green card while most others receive a ten (10) year green card.
The Two (2) Year Green Card
What most people refer to as a 2-year green card is actually what is properly known as a Conditional Permanent Resident Card. This is often also erroneously referred to as a Temporary Green Card.
These 2-year green cards are issued when you get your residency based on a marriage that was less than two years old on the day you became a permanent resident. Your card will have an expiration date on the front that will show that it is no longer value once the 2 years have elapsed.
When you are within 90 days of that expiration date you must file another application to remove the conditional basis of your residency. If you do not timely and properly file that application anytime within those 90 days the government has the right to place you in removal proceedings and seek to deport you.
The Ten (10) Year Green Card
If you are originally given the two-year conditional resident card and then successfully win your case for removal of that condition you will be issued the regular 10-year green card.
Most people do not however have to go through that second step of removing a condition. If you got your residency through your employer or your parent or adult child or brother or sister you will be issued the regular 10-year card. Also if you get residency through marriage and have been married more than two years at the time you are granted then you also will get the regular 10-year card.
As a general rule, if you do not receive your resident card as the husband, wife, or stepchild of a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident you do not have to worry about the removal of any condition. However, if you have been granted the 2-year conditional green card you must keep careful track of your expiration date. Allowing a Conditional Resident Card to expire without timely filing the proper paperwork to remove the condition is very, very dangerous.