Green Card Renewal for Conditional Residents, I-751

I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence

You married a U.S. citizen and got a two-year conditional green card. Now what?

Los Angeles immigration lawyer Joshua Goldstein can help you convert your two-year conditional green card into permanent residency.

If you are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and were granted a green card based on that marriage, your green card may only be valid for two years.

If you and your U.S. citizen spouse were married for less than two years when you were approved for your green card (i.e. the date your I-485 application was granted), then U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will have issued you a two-year green card as a conditional permanent resident. However, if you were married for more than two years on the date your green card was approved, then you would have been issued a ten-year green card.

Why does immigration issue two-year green cards?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is suspicious of relatively new marriages when people use them as the basis for obtaining permanent resident status. The concern is that the marriage is a sham and the couple is only together so that the immigrant can get a green card. If it is a fraudulent marriage, immigration believes the couple will likely separate or divorce soon after the immigrant gets this benefit.

As a  way of double checking  the validity of these new marriages, immigration requires individuals to prove at the end of the two-year green card’s validity that they are still married and the marriage is legitimate.

What does being a “conditional permanent resident” mean?

As a conditional permanent resident, you have the same rights and responsibilities as a permanent resident without conditions. The “conditional” part of your status refers to the fact that at the end of two years as a green card holder, you are required to file an application to remove the conditions on your residency so that you can become a regular green card holder.

What do you do at the end of the two years? How do you remove the conditions on your permanent residency?

Ninety days before your conditional 2 year green card expires, you are required to file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence, along with a filing fee and supporting documentation. This supporting documentation includes joint bank statements, joint tax returns, leases, and other evidence that you are married and have intertwined your life with your spouse.

Before USCIS approves your I-751 application, you may be required to undergo an immigration interview, in which an immigration officer interviews you and your spouse about your married life. These interviews can be tricky and full of potential pitfalls, so it is essential to have legal representation.

If all goes well and your application is approved, you will become a green card holder without any conditions and you will receive a ten-year green card. But, if it is not approved, the denial of your I-751 application could result in you being placed in immigration court and ultimately being deported from the United States. Given the risks involved, having an experienced immigration attorney on your side will help you avoid potential mistakes and problems. Call the Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. today to set up a consultation with an experienced Los Angeles immigration attorney.

Joint Filing

Generally, when a spouse wishes to have the conditions on his or her permanent residency removed, the spouses submit the I-751 application together. This application must be filed within the ninety days preceding the expiration of the conditional resident’s green card. If it is not properly filed, immigration may put you in immigration court.

Waiver of Joint Filing Requirement

Ideally, when submitting an I-751 application, you and your spouse will still be happily married. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some couples get divorced or are separated by the time the I-751 must be submitted. If this is the situation you find yourself in, you are in need of legal representation. The application is much more complicated under these circumstances and you will need to file a waiver application. Due to the complexity of the process, having the advice of a skilled immigration attorney is even more important when requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement.

The joint filing requirement may be waived if:

  • The U.S. citizen spouse has died;
  • The couple entered into the marriage in good faith, but it has since ended in divorce;
  • The couple entered into the marriage in good faith, but the U.S. citizen spouse subjected the conditional resident spouse to abuse or extreme cruelty; or
  • Termination of the conditional resident’s status and removal from the U.S. would cause them extreme hardship.

In order to obtain a waiver, the conditional resident spouse must be able to show that the marriage was entered into in good faith, not for the purpose of evading immigration laws, and that he or she was not at fault in failing to file a timely I-751 application.

Children

If your child was granted conditional permanent residency on the same day as you or within ninety days of your approval, then you may include the child in your I-751 application. But if the child’s conditional residency was approved more than ninety days after your conditional green card was approved, then your child must file his or her own I-751 application to remove the conditions on his or her permanent residency.

Can I work while my I-751 is pending?

Permanent residents are issued green cards that allow them to live and work in the U.S. If you file an I-751 application on time, your conditional resident status will be extended, allowing you to continue working until a decision has been made on the application.

How to Track/Check Status of Form I-751 Online?

The status of a pending I-751 can be checked online using UCSIS Case Status Tool. But to check the status of the I-751 using this method, there is one trick that you need to know. For reasons that are unknown, USCIS assigns a two case different numbers to each I-751 application:  one case number appears on the receipt notice and a different case number appears on the ASC fingerprint notice. You’ll need to enter the case number as it appears on the fingerprint notice to check the application’s status online. If you try to check the case status using the case number as it the receipt notice, USCIS online case status tool will not be able to find the case.

How to Expedite My Form I-751 Application?

It is highly unusual for USCIS grant a request to expedite the processing of an I-751 application. USCIS only expedites those rare immigration cases that meet an extremely narrow guidelines. So making a request for expediting processing is likely to be a waste of time and effort. But to try to expedite your I-751, you could call USCIS National Customer Service Center to communicate your request. You could follow up on your expedite request by going in person to an INFOPASS appointment at the USCIS Los Angeles Field Office or the local office with jurisdiction over your I-751. You could also communicate with the immigration liaison at the office of your U.S. Senator or Congressional representative.

The immigration lawyers in our Los Angeles office has several techniques to resolve delayed I-751. In some cases where the I-751 is stuck, we recommend filing an N-400 application for naturalization, which can be done even if the I-751 is not yet approved. And for those I-751 that are greatly delayed, a writ of mandamus lawsuits is always an option.

Contact the Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. for a Consultation Today

If you need to file an I-751 application, an attorney’s advice can be an invaluable resource to ensure that your forms are completed correctly, your evidence is sufficient, and any appeals are vigorously pursued. Contact Los Angeles immigration attorney Joshua L. Goldstein at (213) 262-2000 to schedule an initial consultation today.