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If you are a green card holder with conditional resident status based on your marriage to a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, to obtain permanent resident status.
Failure to file form I-751 before the designated period expires will lead to immigration problems and possibly deportation. However, with the successful approval of the form, you get a green card with a 10-year validity period. This guide will provide an overview of the I-751 process and tips for a successful application.
Form I-751 is a petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to remove the conditions on your permanent resident status. It is filed by conditional residents who obtained their green cards through marriage to a US citizen or permanent resident spouse. The form must be filed within 90 days of the expiration date of your conditional residence status.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) use Form I-751 to confirm that you married your spouse in good faith and not for immigration benefits. You will typically need to submit some evidence of a bona fide marriage, like joint financial documents, etc.
Conditional green cards cannot be renewed, making filing Form I-751 necessary to remove conditions on the residence of a conditional green card holder.
According to the USCIS, conditional residents must file the form within 90 days before their conditional residence expires. Filing even a day after your conditional status has expired will affect your residence status, as the USCIS office will likely reject the form. Also, if you are not filing a joint petition, you can file form I-751 even if your divorce or annulment proceeding has yet to be concluded.
However, in such cases, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence requesting a copy of the final divorce decree or annulment.
You can download the form from the USCIS website and fill it out on your computer. Alternatively, you may print it out and fill it with black ink or have your attorney fill it out. The USCIS website also contains filing instructions to guide you through the process.
When you are done filling out the form, you have to mail it to one of the direct filing addresses of the USCIS, depending on where you live. You must also pay the filing fee of $595 when you file the form. Multiple modes of payment are available, including credit card and check.
You can use the same form, I-751, to file for the removal of conditions on residence for your dependent children who also gained conditional resident status at the time or within 90 days after you did. However, you must pay a separate biometric fee of $85 for yourself and your children.
The next step is to attend a biometrics appointment, if applicable. The USCIS will provide you with an appointment notice. After this, you may get a request for more information or an invitation for an interview. Eventually, the USCIS will notify you of their decision, and if your petition is approved, you gain an unconditional green card, and they will mail you your 10-year permanent resident card.
As mentioned, joint filing is mandatory when you are still married to the same spouse. However, if you get divorced after filing Form I-751 but before USCIS decides on your petition, it is within your rights to request a waiver of this requirement.
The USCIS will approve the form and issue a permanent residence card to the appropriate partner once they are convinced that all the criteria have been met. Generally, both partners are expected to fill out the form jointly. But there may be circumstances where that is not possible.
Such recognized circumstances include:
In any of these situations, the foreign spouse must file their form with an explanation for seeking a waiver of the joint filing requirement. They still need to prove that the marriage was genuine when you entered it. In I-751 waiver of joint filing requirement cases, the required proof and level of scrutiny might be more than if both partners were still together. Therefore, filing with the help of an experienced lawyer might be helpful.
After filing your petition, you can expect to receive a receipt notice from the USCIS confirming that they have received your form. This notice, known as Form I-797, will also include a receipt number that you can use to track the status of your case.
If everything in your application is complete and accurate, you should receive a biometrics appointment notice from the USCIS. This is where you will have your fingerprints, photograph, and signature taken for background check purposes.
After completing the biometrics appointment, you may receive a request for more evidence or an invitation to attend an interview. If your case is straightforward and there are no issues with your application, you may not be required to attend an interview.
Finally, after the USCIS has reviewed all the evidence and information in your petition, they will decide whether to approve or deny your request to remove the conditions on your residence. If your petition is approved, you will receive an unconditional green card, and the USCIS will mail you your 10-year permanent resident card.
Immigration processes are generally very tricky, and little mistakes could lead to the USCIS rejecting your petition. The professional eye of an attorney can help your petition in this regard.
Also, your case may be complicated if you are filing individually or have a previously rejected petition. An experienced immigration attorney can prepare your form and documents to ensure your petition is approved.
If your petition is rejected, you may face removal proceedings. However, your petition could still be approved at this stage with the help of a skilled lawyer. To hire the services of such an immigration attorney in Texas with years of experience and success, contact Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys At Law, today.