The immigration form I-751 is otherwise known as the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. If you have a conditional Green Card, you must file the I-751 form to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) remove the conditions on your Green Card. You receive a conditional Green Card if you have only been married to your U.S. citizen or legal resident spouse for less than 2 years when your petition for a Green Card is approved. The reason it is conditional is to prevent marriage fraud, in other words marriages that are not of good faith and only exist for immigration purposes. Thus, USCIS distributes 2-year conditional Green Cards to these relationships, so that they can check again after 2 years that the marriage truly is a bona fide relationship. The form must be filed within 90 days of the expiration of the Green Card. The main requirements of this form are biographic information and evidence that you are or were in a bona fide relationship with your U.S. legal resident or citizen spouse through which you received your original conditional Green Card. Once you do this, should your petition be granted, you will receive a 10-year Green Card without conditions. In general, after filing the I-751 petition, the processing time is around 12-18 months. However, at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all processing times are significantly increased.
If your I-751 form has been properly filed, USCIS will mail you a receipt confirmation of your petition called Form I-797, Notice of Action. This extends your conditional residence for another 18 months while USCIS reviews your case. During the review process, you will have to attend a biometrics appointment. USCIS may request more evidence or an interview between you and your spouse if your petition did not have strong enough evidence to prove a bona fide marriage. As such, it is important that your petition is fully completed without errors and with as much compelling evidence as possible to prove your relationship.
If your spouse dies before you are able to file the I-751 form, you can still file it, providing that you check on the form that you are requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement due to the death of your spouse. The application still requires your biographic information, evidence proving your marriage was of good faith, and now a copy of your spouse’s death certificate. A key difference here is that you may file your I-751 at any time with the waiver, instead of just during the 90-day period before your conditional Green Card expires.
In the case of divorce from your spouse, you can still file the I-751 form, provided you check on the form that you are requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement due to the divorce. The only difference in materials submitted for the petition after a divorce is that you must provide the divorce or annulment certificate. You should also submit evidence about why you and your spouse divorced. You can file your I-751 at any time, regardless of when your conditional Green Card expires.
If your U.S. citizen or legal resident spouse is abusive, you can check on the form that you are requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement due to the extreme cruelty. Battery is defined as physical violence against you committed by your spouse, including slapping, punching, pushing, forced sexual relations, or any other bodily injury. Extreme cruelty is nonviolent abuse that your spouse purposefully inflicted on you to humiliate, control, or dominate you. One such example may be threatening to physically hurt you or your loved ones to make you afraid of him/her. You will have the same requirements as any other I-751 petitioner, but you will also need to submit as much evidence of the abuse as possible.
No matter your circumstances, at The Shulman Law Group we have years of experience and expertise in all immigration matters. Contact us today to help you fill out your I-751 form to help remove the conditions on your lawful permanent residency.