Is an in-person I-751 interview absolutely necessary? I get nervous easily, and I am afraid I will flub the interview.
An interview is not always required, but there is no guarantee that you will not have to attend one. We can coach you and help you prepare for the interview, and we can even attend the interview with you. Simply being nervous might not be enough to derail your petition to remove conditions on permanent residence — even people who married in good faith get nervous when the stakes are this high.
What happens to my green card if my spouse and I have already divorced by the time my I-751 petition interview is scheduled?
Normally, you and your spouse must file a joint petition to remove conditions on residence (Form I-751) to have your green card condition removed so that you can become a true permanent resident of the United States. If you are divorced, your spouse is no longer your spouse and will not be able to file a joint petition with you.
Although it is possible for you to apply for and receive a waiver of this requirement, a divorce will cause the immigration officer to doubt your good faith, and it will greatly reduce the odds that your I-751 petition to remove conditions on permanent residence will be successful.
What happens to my green card if my spouse and I have already separated (but not yet divorced by the time my interview is scheduled?
If you are separated but not divorced when the time comes to file your Form I-751 petition to remove conditions on residence, your spouse can file a joint Form I-751 petition to remove conditions with you if he or she is willing to cooperate. The USCIS officer will be looking to determine whether the marriage was entered into in good faith at the time you were married, not whether or not you are still willing to remain married two years later.
Even if your spouse jointly files Form I-751 with you, however, your separation may raise doubts about whether the marriage was originally entered into in good faith, especially if the separation occurred shortly after your green card was issued.
What happens if I file a joint Form I-751 with my spouse, but it has not yet been approved or denied by the time my two-year green card expiration date arrives?
Once the USCIS accepts your Form I-751 (as evidenced by the Form I-797C Notice of Action Receipt Notice that the USCIS will send you in the mail), your green card will be automatically extended for 18 months. Even if your additional 18 months elapse without a decision, you will still have the right to remain in the US until the USCIS decides on your petition.
Can I use my receipt notice to work while I am in the United States?
Yes, you can. You do not have to apply for a separate Employment Authorization Document, as many people on nonimmigrant visas do. If your green card has already expired, your green card plus your Notice of Action provide evidence of your right to work in the United States.
Can I use my receipt notice to travel outside the United States and return while my I-751 petition to remove conditions on a residence is pending?
Yes, you can. You can return to the US as long as you have your green card and your receipt notice. It is also possible to receive an I-551 extension stamp from the USCIS that will allow you to travel overseas and return. Do not lose these documents while you are overseas, or you could end up stranded.
How long does it take to process Form I-751?
The timing varies from year to year, but currently, it takes at least 18 months and often longer to remove the conditions on your lawful permanent resident status. Be prepared for a long wait.
What happens if my Form I-751 is approved?
If your Form I-751 is approved, the USCIS will remove the conditions on your lawful permanent resident status and you will become a bona fide permanent resident of the United States.