If you received your U.S. conditional resident card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen due to the recency of the marriage, then you need to learn how and when to remove conditions on permanent residence. To convert your conditional permanent residency (with a two-year expiration date) to permanent residence, you must complete and submit USCIS Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.
With the approval of this form, conditional resident status holders can remove conditions on residence and subsequently become lawful permanent residents (green card holders).
Conditional residents must file the Petition to Remove Conditions timely and with supporting evidence to prove they have good faith marriage. If you fail to file the petition or filing late, it can create an unlawful presence and cause deportation problem.
If you are eligible and ready to file the form I-751, in this article, you will find basic, but useful information on how to fill out the form, what is the filing fee and get the green card.
How to Prepare Form I-751 to Remove Conditions on Residence?
Once your conditional permanent resident status is within 90 days of the green card expiration date, you must file Form I-751. In case of a hardship waiver, there is more flexibility with the petitioning.
When USCIS approves your petition, you will get a 10-year permanent resident card, also known as a green card.
How to Fill Out a “Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence”?
You can either fill in Form I-751 on your computer or print it out and fill it in by hand.
Here are some rules that it is good to consider while filling out the form:
- If you encounter a question that doesn’t apply to you on the form, put N/A (“not applicable”).
- For questions that require a number zero, put None instead of a zero.
- In the extra space on the last page, you need to put information that won’t fit in the space provided elsewhere on the form. You may need more space, so be careful and use the following tips:
- Use a separate piece of paper and attach it to the end of the form.
- On each extra sheet you use: put your name and Alien Registration number at the top, sign it on the bottom, and tell the page, part numbers, and item to which the information refers.
Now, let’s go step by step through the form i 751 and review it’s parts.
The completed form has to be mailed to the address of the U.S. government, depending on the U.S. state you live in.
This part asks mostly about your basic biographical information.
In question 9, you have to provide a USCIS Online Account Number. This is the number that anyone who filed an application, petition, or request using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS) has.
Question 14 asks what is the expiration date of your conditional residence card.
If you were convicted of a crime, in question 18, you would have to provide information on whether you are at deportation, rescission or removal proceedings.
Don’t get confused about question 19 and whether you “paid to anyone other than an attorney in connection with this petition.”
If you have paid someone to help you prepare the petition, expect USICS officers to question it and ensure this person provides information and signs in Part 10.
Questions about your criminal activity and crimes for which you could have been arrested but wasn’t for some reason require good legal knowledge if you have something to admit.
It is best to get help from an experienced immigration attorney, and not write something that can put you in trouble.
Also, you have to describe yourself, including eye color, weight, height, and ethnicity.
Parts 3 and 4
If U.S. spouses of conditional permanent residents go with them through the process of getting the green card and are still married, they need to put an “X” in Box 1.a. and leave other checkboxes empty.
Joint Filing requirement For Joint Petition
If you and your spouse file jointly, check the appropriate box in “Joint filing”, but before that make sure you understand the joint filing requirement.
For those who can not apply jointly with their U.S. spouses due to circumstances, explain why your spouse will not file with you by checking the relevant box (spouse’s death, abuse, or divorce).
If you have children who obtained status with two-year conditional green cards at the same or within 90 days of when you did, you need to check the “yes” box.
If you do not have children, go straight to Part 6.
If you have any disabilities or impairments and require accommodation by U.S. authorities during the interview, you can state them here.
You and the U.S. citizen spouse must verify that all the information you provided is true.
After you read the statements in this part and provide accurate contact information, you will have to put your signature.
If an interpreter or an attorney helped you prepare the I-751, they would need to fill out the related section.
As the conditional green card holder’s spouse, you are the “petitioner,” and it’s your task to fill out Part 7 and sign and date the form.
The immigrating spouse signs the form in this part and types or writes the personal name in the related box.
Their sponsoring spouse should then complete and also sign in.
Parts 9 and 10
If you used interpreter’s or other person’s help to fill out the I-751, such as your attorney, they need to give their details in these sections.
Supporting Documents For Getting Permanent Resident Status
With your Form I-751, you will have to include supporting documents, for which you can find I-751 instructions on the USCIS website.
In short, make sure you prepared:
- Copies of your current green card and green cards of your children on the I-751 (front and back of documents).
- Evidence permanent resident entered the marriage into in good faith, or have a bona fide marriage: that you continue to live together (mortgage or lease documents); share assets; joint bank accounts or joint tax filings; voided checks showing the same address; family photographs and affidavits from friends; If you have any children, include their birth certificates;
- The firm explanation for not filing jointly (if applicable and if filing with a waiver the joint filing requirement): spouse’s death certificate; official documentation showing physical abuse or extreme hardship; a finalized divorce decree. All included along with the evidence of marital relationship.
- If filing late, make sure you support the explanation with relevant reasons.
- Provide details of any criminal convictions or charges after you received a conditional green card.
- If you are overseas due to military or government service, attach two passport-style photographs, a copy of your current military or government orders, and completed Form FD-258 fingerprint cards. Also, on the top of your I-751, you can write “ACTIVE MILITARY” or “GOVERNMENT ORDERS.”
When to File Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence?
If you obtained a conditional green card residence based on your marriage or your parent’s marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and it expires within 90 days, you must file Form I-751 to remove conditions.
Form I-751 is a joint petition, which means that the petitioning spouse and a sponsoring spouse will file it with the government agency together.
However, there are exceptions from having to file a joint petition for conditional residents requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement for individuals in an abusive relationship or divorce.
If the form I-751 is not filed by the date the two-year green card expires, the conditional generally becomes deportable.
Therefore, filing the petition within 90 days before your conditional residence expires is extremely important. For waiver petitioners, there is more flexibility, but we highly advise you to speak with an immigration attorney. You can file a petition to seek a waiver even after the 90-day filing window for jointly filed petitions.
Providing Evidence of a Good Faith Marriage
When you prepare Form I-751, you must submit various other supporting documents and required initial evidence.
The purpose of this petition is to verify that your marriage is real. Therefore, presenting strong evidence of a bona fide marriage is the most important thing to do in this process.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wants to ensure the petitioner entered the marriage for love and not solely for immigration purposes and for obtaining a green card. When reviewing the Form I-751 and supporting documentation you provided, USCIS will try to see how you and your spouse live and what joint activities you do as a married couple.
A fraudulent marriage is when at least one of the parties of a marriage entered into the marriage to bypass the U.S. immigration laws to acquire immigration benefits falsely. USCIS will closely look at whether that was your intention.
What Documents Will Help You Prove Good Faith in Marriage?
Your marriage certificate will prove the legality of a marriage. But, you must know that it is not enough to prove the marriage is bona fide and entered in a good faith.
When filing Form I-751, you must submit copies of as many documents as possible to establish this fact.
Also, you will need to present the circumstances of the relationship from the date of marriage.
You can use the following documents:
- A newspaper announcement for your engagement
- The wedding invitation
- Wedding-related expenses with the names of the couple.
- Birth certificates (copies) for any children born to the Marriage.
- Copies of the deed showing both spouse’s names and other relevant real estate documents (lease agreement, purchase contract, mortgage agreement and account statements, property tax bills, etc.).
- Other relevant documents proving that you are living together to the present date, such as utility bills
- Joint travel records
- Affidavits from friends who have known both of you since you obtained conditional residence and have personal knowledge of your relationship and marriage.
- Photographs of the married couple together.
- Social Media where officers can see the couple participating in events and interact with a community of friends and family.
What Happens After Conditional Resident Spouse Files Form I-751?
Usually, the conditional resident has to attend a biometrics appointment, and together with his or her spouse, may attend an interview at the USCIS office.
You can expect to receive an appointment notice to visit a USCIS Application Support Center approximately 4-6 weeks after you have filed Form I-751. If you get the I-751 receipt notice, it will extend the conditional resident status for one year.
The filing fee for an I-751 petition is $595, with an additional $85 biometric fee for yourself and each dependent included on the petition.
In some cases, you can request a fee waiver, and it can be based on your household income, financial hardship, or receipt of means-tested benefits.
The fee can be paid with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check; if filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you can use Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, or make a payment by credit card.
How Can An Immigration Attorney Help You?
Many conditional permanent residents are not sure what evidence they can use to move from conditional permanent resident cards to become lawful permanent residents.
Having an experienced immigration attorney with whom you can build a strong attorney-client relationship can help you prepare USCIS form and supporting documents, and deal with varying scenarios of complex cases is a huge advantage.
Any mistake in the form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions that is not fully filled can affect the processing times and cause delays or even prevent conditional permanent residents from becoming a green card holder (permanent resident).
Richard Herman, and immigration attorneys at Herman Legal Group law firm, have over 26 years of providing immigration services.
You can schedule a consultation with us via Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, or Facetime, or you can decide to visit our law firm to discuss your case. Contact us via +1-800-808-4013 or +1-216-696-6170.