When filing an I-751, there is a specific timeframe in which the applicant must submit the petition. For joint filing, the green card holder should apply within 90 days BEFORE the expiration of the two-year green card. Your application will not be approved if filed any earlier than the given timeframe (and yes, USCIS will observe the timestamp marked on the postage!) It is important to file early within the 90-day period to avoid any unnecessary drawbacks. Consider the following scenario:
Maria filed her I-751 within 10 days of the expiration of her conditional green card. Three weeks have passed, and Maria has not received any documents or receipt issued by the government stating she filed her paperwork. Maria’s green card is now expired, she has no receipt for an approved application, and now she’s having problems obtaining employment and traveling lawfully based on her current expired status.
There have been many cases similar to Maria’s where applicants’ green cards expire while waiting to be issued a receipt. As a result, conflicts arise and the amount of paperwork that ensues becomes a nightmare! Therefore, it is in your best interest to file your petition as early as possible.
If you are filing a waiver petition based on a divorce, you can file at any time, even after your green card is expired (not recommended). You will need to document that your marriage was entered in good faith, but the relationship didn’t work out. For these reasons, the applicant should not be penalized or restricted on when to file to remove conditions. However, the USCIS might analyze different factors when reviewing your application in order to confirm that the marriage was authentic and not entered for immigration purposes. For example, the government might consider the length of time the couple lived together when reviewing the application. If your answer is less than 6 months, your case may pose a high risk. If you lived together for more than 1 year, your case is at lower risk to be scrutinized for authenticity.
Lastly, you can file a waiver petition if you and your US citizen spouse are separated and have not filed for divorce yet. However, you should consider filing for a divorce in the meantime. It is beneficial to the timeliness of your case to be divorced by the time of your I-751 interview. Technically, the petition cannot be adjudicated or resolved if there is no divorce. Otherwise, at the interview, the officer will give you 85 days to respond showing a recorded divorce.
There is a $595 filing fee along with an $85 biometrics fee, totaling to $680 that must be paid by check submitted along with your form. You must send your application and payment to the USCIS office of your jurisdiction.