Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary

Conditional Resident

A foreign-born person who, instead of being granted permanent resident status (a green card), is granted U.S. residence on a conditional, two-year basis. Near the end of the two years, the person must petition for the removal of the conditions -- in other words, prove continuing eligibility for the same status, with a request to convert to permanent resident status. Under current law, people who apply for green cards as the spouse of a U.S. citizen where the marriage is less than two years old at the time they're approved for U.S. residence, as well as all immigrant investors, are the only two groups who are required to spend time as conditional residents.