It’s not rare to fall in love abroad and want to start life in the United States with your new foreign spouse as soon as possible.
But, getting married to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident doesn’t mean that a foreigner obtains a marriage green card the same day.
Instead, they first get conditional resident card, and they are allowed to remove conditions on residence after certain period of time.
If you have a conditional residency and it’s time to remove the conditions on your permanent conditional residence, you will have to use Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.
Unlike obtaining permanent resident card based on other reasons, becoming a permanent resident by marrying a U.S. citizen means you must first go through the process of becoming a conditional resident first, and then, after certain period of time you can remove those conditions.
What is Permanent Resident Card or Conditional permanent Resident Status?
A conditional permanent resident card allows an immigrant to begin married life as a permanent resident but with conditions to his or her permanent residency.
The purpose of issuing a conditional green card after marriage is for USCIS to ensure the marriage between a conditional green card holder and the sponsoring spouse is bona fide or entered in good faith and that immigration fraud is not committed.
What is a Form i-751?
Form I-751 needs to be filed with USCIS during the 90 days proceeding your two-year green card anniversary.
Once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS approves it, you will receive a 10-year green card by mail and officially become a lawful permanent resident.
But, do you want to know how long it takes the processing of Form I-751?
Here, we will discuss the timeline of different phases of I-751 processing, so keep reading to learn how long you will have to wait to get a 10-year green card.
How Long Does it Take to Remove Conditions on a Permanent Residence?
Although the steps are relatively consistent, the I-751 processing time will vary based on the caseload, the USCIS office where you filed the form, and your ability to accurately prepare the I-751 petition package and properly file the petition.
Form I-751 contains 11 parts and requires multiple signatures, so you do not have to be surprised why USCIS takes that much time to review it with all other supporting documents you submit.
Therefore, take enough time and pay attention to details when filling out this form because any mistake or missed signature can result in a denial.
To ensure you filed your form properly and timely, it is best to consider hiring an experienced immigration attorney.
When to File I-751 petition to remove conditions on residence?
The time frame when you have to file Form I-751 is 90 days before your conditional green card expires.
You need to be precise when filing:
- Applying too early: if you file a petition before 90 days, USCIS will return the form, and you will have to refile the application in less time than allotted.
- Applying after expiration date: if you file your form after your conditional permanent residence card reach expiration date, USCIS will deny it.
Timeframe of I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence Process
Filing Form I-751
The first step is to submit Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as a conditional permanent resident by marriage to a U.S. citizen or who has been married for less than two years.
As mentioned above, this conditional green card will expire after two years, and you must file Form I-751 just before your conditional green card expires.
Depending on you petition and supporting documents submitted, USCIS may approve or deny your petition, or ask for additional evidence issuing Request for Evidence (RFE).
If USCIS approves your petition, the conditions on your conditional permanent residence will be removed, and you will obtain a lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.
Not sure if your green card is conditional? Take a look at it and at the heading Category. If you find “CR1,” you can be sure that your green card is conditional!
Issuing a Receipt Notice
To process the I-751 petition and issues a receipt, USCIS takes about a month after filing your petition.
When you receive your receipt, you will find information about an appointment date for your biometrics exam, which should take place approximately 6 to 10 weeks at USCIS field office after you filed the I-751 petition.
Receiving A Receipt Notice
Also, USCIS requires biometrics fee to be paid.
After you properly file the Form I-751 petition, USCIS will respond by mailing you a receipt notice (using the mailing address you provided, and you can receive it as a text message), also known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action.
If you correctly filed your petition (Form I-751), the receipt notice will arrive within 4 to 6 weeks.
Still, if you didn’t, you could expect to receive from USCIS a Notice of Action to reject the petition or a Request for Evidence (RFE) asking for additional items.
Either way, there will be a significant delay in your request, so prepare the I-751 correctly and submit all required supporting documents.
This I-797C form will extend your conditional residence for 18 months which period USCIS will review your case.
This means that you’ll need to carry this form along with your expired green card to prove your conditional resident status so you can reenter the U.S. when you travel abroad, finding a job, and similar.
To follow your case status, enter your receipt number using the option available on the USCIS website.
Biometrics Appointment Notice
Approximately six to eight weeks after filing, you will receive information about your biometrics appointment date, time, and location where it will be conducted. Usually, the location to attend the biometrics appointment is the USCIS Application Support Center nearest you. USCIS conducts a security clearance and criminal background check for all petitioners.
At your biometrics appointment, bring:
- Passport or national photo ID
- State-issued ID
- Military photo identification
- Driver’s license
- Any other government-issued identification
Request For Evidence (in certain cases)
As mentioned above, if USCIS needs more supporting evidence about your bona fide marriage to make a decision, this government agency will issue a Request for Evidence, usually 2 to 10 months after you submit your form I-751.
Responding to the letter with the requisite proof and within the required time frame is essential, so if you haven’t contacted your immigration attorney yet, this is the right time to do it and avoid denial of your petition.
Eight to twelve months after filing the petition I-751, USICS will schedule the interview at the immigration office. In some cases, USCIS may waive the I-751 interview for jointly filed I-751 petitions with firm evidence of bona fide marriage.
To prove that you entered the marriage in good faith and not only to obtain immigration benefit, provide other evidence such as joint documents from both you and your spouse, photographic evidence, and-/or I-751 affidavit statements from friends and loved ones.
If you get the appointment date for the interview, which means that you failed to convince the government agency that you got married in good faith, you must attend it.
If you miss scheduled interview at the immigration office, you may face termination of the conditional resident status and the commencement of removal (deportation) proceedings.
Processing time To Remove Conditions on Residence: Summary
After filing the I-751 petition, the processing time can take 12 to 18 months.
A significant factor influencing how fast USCIS will process your petition is the evidence and supporting documentation, you attached to it. If you haven’t submitted firm evidence of your bona fide marriage, USICS will request additional information.
Create an online account so you can check your case status on the USCIS website with your receipt number and find the usual processing times.
If your case falls outside the normal processing times, you can make a case inquiry.
Processing times of some USCIS Application Centers
- California Service Center: 14 to 27.5 Months
- Nebraska Service Center: 14 to 27.5 Months
- Potomac Service Center: 12.5 to 18.5 Months
- Texas Service Center: 15 to 18 Months
- Vermont Service Center: 12.5 to 19 Months
Unfortunately, processing time of the form I-751 petition to remove conditions is one of the longest. The only way to ecpedit the process is to properly file application and avoid any delays.
Remember: it’s not about how many evidence you provided, but how strong those are. Even having children born to the marriage will not expedite the process.
How An Immigration Attorney Can Help You?
To avoid any delays in processing your I-751 petition, it is essential to submit a well-prepared application package. Many conditional permanent residents are not sure what evidence they can use to move from conditional permanent resident status to becoming lawful permanent residents.
Having an experienced immigration attorney to help you understand the U.S. immigration law, prepare different kinds of immigration forms and supporting documents, or deal with varying scenarios of complex cases, during the visa process is a huge advantage.
You can hear about different experience with the same situation as yours, but remember that each case is different and should be assessed in details before deciding what additional documents to provide and what strategy to choose.
Any mistake in the application that is not fully filled can affect the processing times and cause delays or even prevent conditional permanent residents from obtaining a lawful permanent resident status.
Richard Herman, and immigration attorney at Herman Legal Group law firm, has over 26 years of providing immigration services with one of the most experienced attorneys who offer quality 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 +1-216-696-6170.
If you prefer to speak with the immigration attorney Richard Herman, you can also book your consultation online.