Foreign-born persons who have the status of “Conditional Permanent Resident”, must remove the conditions on their status before the conditional green card expires or they will face deportation.

The process for removing the conditions of permanent residency is done through Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

This article discusses conditional residency, Form I-751, and how to remove the conditional status.

Form I-751 and Conditional Green Card

Permanent residence (green card) status is “conditional” if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years in duration from the day you were granted a green card.

As a conditional permanent resident, you must prove that you did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the United States.

For conditional permanent residents, you must have the conditional status removed before your conditional green card’s the two-year expiration date expires.

To remove the conditional status, you must file Form I-751 with the USCIS.

The only difference between being a “conditional” and a non-conditional permanent resident is your card’s expiration date.

Otherwise, conditional permanent residents have all the rights and benefits as every other permanent resident.

While permanent resident green cards expire at the end of ten years, conditional permanent resident green cards expire after two years.

To determine the exact date your card expires, check the expiration date on the front of your green card.

What is Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence)? 

As the name implies, Form I-751 is used to remove conditions from your conditional permanent resident status.

It is used to upgrade your two years of conditional status to ten-year permanent resident status.

USCIS uses the information provided on Form I-751 to determine whether your marriage is not based on fault to get around U.S. immigration law.

If you do not remove the conditional status from your green card before your conditional permanent resident card (conditional green card) expires, you will be classified as an undocumented immigrant and will risk deportation.

 

 

Form I-751 – Who Needs to File It?

If you were granted conditional permanent resident status based on marriage and you stayed married, both you and your spouse must file Form I-751 jointly.

If you have dependent children who acquired conditional resident status on the same day as you, or within 90 days after you, include their names and alien registration numbers in Part 5 (Information About Your Children) of your I-751 Form.

Doing so will tell the USCIS that you are requesting your children(s’) conditional status be removed as well.

If you have dependent children who did not acquire conditional resident status on the same day as you, or within 90 days after you, or if the conditional resident parent is deceased, then each dependent child must separately and individually file Form I-751 to remove the conditions from their status. 

You may file Form I-751 without your spouse if:

  • You entered the marriage in good faith, but your spouse passed away;
  • You entered the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was terminated due to divorce or annulment;
  • You entered the marriage in good faith, but you have been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by your spouse; 
  • Your conditional resident parent entered the marriage in good faith, but you as a child have been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent; or
  • The termination of your status and removal from the United States would result in extreme hardship.

Form I-751 – Who Doesn’t Need to File It?

If you already have a permanent resident green card that expires after ten years, you do not have to file Form I-751.

If you need to file Form I-90 to replace or renew your permanent resident card, you do not have to file Form I-751.

ONLY file Form I-751 if you need to change your conditional permanent resident green card (with a two-year expiration date) into a permanent resident green card (with a ten-year expiration date).

When Should I File Form I-751?

If you are jointly filing Form I-751 with your spouse, you must immediately file this form during the 90 days before your conditional residence expires.

If your spouse is deceased, or if you are divorced, or if you and/or your conditional resident child were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty, you may file Form I-751 at any time after you are granted conditional resident status and before the expiration date listed on your conditional permanent resident card.

If you fail to file Form I-751, you will automatically lose your permanent resident status two years from the date it was granted, and USCIS will begin deportation proceedings to remove you from the United States.

Special Note: If the failure to file Form I-751 wasn’t your fault, you may file your petition late with a written explanation and ask USCIS to excuse the lateness.

Failure to file before your conditional resident status expires may be excused if you show that the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control and that the length of the delay was reasonable.

What Happens After Form I-751 is Filed?

To remove conditions on your green card, the USCIS processes your I-751 Form in the following way:

Initial Processing

Once your petition is filed, USCIS will check it for completion.

If your I-751 application is not completely filled out, USCIS will determine that you have not established a basis for your eligibility, and your application will be rejected.

RFE – Request for Evidence

USCIS may ask that you provide additional evidence to support your petition.

USCIS may also ask that you supply the originals of any copied documents you submitted.

USCIS will return any requested originals when they are no longer required.

Requests for Interview

Based upon your petition, USCIS may call you in for an interview at a USCIS office near your home address.

At the time of your interview, you may be required to provide your fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature to verify your identity and/or update background and security checks.

Decision

USCIS will tell you of their decision in writing.

This decision will be based on a determination of whether you have established eligibility for the immigration benefit you seek.

Form I-751 Fees

As of March 2020, there is a $595.00 filing fee for Form I-751.

In addition, there is an $85.00 fee for every biometric service required.

Total fee: $680.

Each dependent child listed under Part 5 of Form I-751 is required to pay a separate $85.00 biometric fee.

This includes dependents residing overseas because of military or government orders, regardless of age.

NOTE: The filing and biometric service fees are not refundable, regardless of any action USCIS takes on your application.

Form I-751 Checklist

USCIS requires that you file the following documents with Form I-751:

Permanent Resident Card

FORM I-751

File a copy of your conditional permanent resident card (or alien registration card), and a copy of the conditional permanent resident cards (or alien registration cards) of your conditional resident children included in your I-751 petition.

Be sure that you submit copies of both the front and back of each card.

Exceptions to Permanent Resident Card

For those who live overseas under military or government orders, including conditional resident dependents residing overseas and listed under Part 5 (Information About Your Children), you must give the following items with Form I-751:

  • For each petitioner and dependent regardless of their age, two passport-style photos; and
  • For each petitioner and dependent ages 14 to 79, two completed fingerprint cards (Form FD-258).

Evidence of the Relationship

You must submit documents indicating that the marriage upon which you were granted conditional status was entered in “good faith”, and not to circumvent U.S. immigration law.

You should send as many documents as possible to prove your “good faith” marriage, the relationship at present, and circumstances surrounding its end if it has ended.

These documents may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Birth certificates of children born during the time of this marriage, if any;
  • Lease or mortgage contracts showing joint occupancy and/or ownership of your communal residence;
  • Any financial records showing joint ownership of assets and/or joint responsibility for liabilities:
    • Joint savings and checking accounts with transaction history;
    • Joint Federal and State tax returns;
    • Insurance policies that show the other spouse as the beneficiary;
    • Joint utility bills; or
    • Joint installment or other loan payments;
  • If in the military, copies of Military Leave and Earnings Statements showing receipt of Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ) with family members and/or Form DD-1172 for military family member identification cards;
  • Any other document that might be considered relevant to prove that your marriage was not entered to evade U.S. immigration laws; and
  • Sworn affidavits of at least two people who have known both you and your spouse since your conditional residence status was granted and has personal knowledge of your marriage and relationship.

Death of Spouse

If you are filing as an individual due to the death of your spouse, give a copy of the death certificate with your petition, along with evidence of the qualifying relationship.

Divorce

I-751 divorce

If you are filing as an individual because your marriage has ended in divorce, you must provide the final divorce decree or any other document terminating or annulling the marriage, along with other evidence of the qualifying relationship.

Battering or Extreme Cruelty

If you are filing as an individual because you and/or your conditional resident child were battered or subject to extreme cruelty, you must submit:

  • Evidence of the abuse, such as copies of reports or official records issued by police, courts, medical staff, school officials, clergy, social workers, and other social service agency staff; orders of protection; evidence that you sought safe haven in a shelter for the abused or similar refuge; and/or photographs evidencing your injuries; and
  • If your marriage was terminated by divorce on grounds of physical abuse or extreme cruelty, a copy of your divorce decree.

Extreme Hardship

If you are filing for a waiver of the joint filing requirement because the termination of your status and removal would result in “extreme hardship”, you must give evidence that your removal would result in hardship.

This hardship must prove greater than hardships met by other internationally-born people who are removed from this country after extended stays.

Evidence of this “extreme hardship” must relate only to those factors that arose during the two-year period for which you were admitted as a conditional resident.

Child Filing Form I-751 Separately

If you are a child filing separately from your parent, give a full explanation about why you are filing separately, along with any supporting documentation.

Form I-751 and Criminal History

If you have ever been arrested or detained by law enforcement for any reason, in the United States or abroad, and no charges were filed, provide an original official statement by the arresting agency or applicable court order confirming that no charges were filed.

If you have ever been arrested or detained by law enforcement for any reason, either in the United States or abroad, and charges were filed, or if charges were filed against you without an arrest, provide an original or court-certified copy of the complete arrest record and/or disposition for each incident (dismissal order, conviction record, or acquittal order).

If you have ever been convicted or placed in an alternative sentencing program or rehabilitative program (such as drug treatment or community service program), you are required to provide:

  • An original or court-certified copy of your sentencing record for each incident, and evidence that you completed your sentence, specifically:
    • An original or certified copy of your probation or parole record; or
    • Evidence that you completed an alternative sentencing program or rehabilitative program;
  • An original or court-certified copy of the court order vacating, setting aside, sealing, expunging, or otherwise removing the arrest or convictions; or
  • If no record is available, an original statement from the court that no record exists of your arrest or conviction.

Note: Unless a traffic incident was alcohol or drug-related, you do not have to provide documentation for traffic fines and incidents that did not involve an actual arrest if the only penalty was a fine of less than $500.00 and/or points on your driver’s license.

Form I-751 Processing Time

Form I-751 - How to Remove Conditions on Your Green Card [2020] 1

Your I-751 processing time is dependent upon many factors, including which USCIS office processes your application.

While you are required to file Form I-751 within 90 days of your conditional permanent resident card’s expiration date, it may take up to two years for USCIS to process and approve your I-751 application.

Form I-751 Processing Time

Application centerProcessing time
California Service Center14 Months to 27.5 Months
Nebraska Service Center14 Months to 27.5 Months
Potomac Service Center12.5 Months to 18.5 Months
Texas Service Center15 Months to 18 Months
Vermont Service Center12.5 Months to 19 Months
All field offices20 Months to 46 Months

After you file your Form I-751, you will receive a Form I-797C (Notice of Action) from USCIS confirming receipt of your I-751 application.

This I-797C Notice of Action serves as an extension of your conditional permanent resident card’s expiration date.

After USCIS receives your I-751 application, your conditional permanent resident card will not expire until USCIS approves or denies your I-751 application

If it becomes necessary to show your conditional permanent resident card, show your I-797C Notice indicating an extension of your card’s expiration date.

Is There a USCIS Interview After Filing Form I-751?

I-751 interview

Depending on your circumstances and the grounds of your application, USCIS may ask for an interview.

If an interview is required, USCIS will send you Form I-797C (Notice of Action) advising you of a date, local USCIS office location, and any documentation you should bring to the interview.

What Happens if You Do Not Remove the Conditions of Your Permanent Resident (Green Card) Status?

If you do not file Form I-751 within 90 days of the expiration date listed on your conditional permanent resident card (conditional green card), USCIS will immediately begin deportation proceedings and you will be deported back to your home country.

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Related links:

Marriage Green Card – Complete Step-by-Step Guide [2020]

I-130 Form, Petition for Alien Relative – Complete Guide [2020]

Green Card Renewal – Complete Guide [2020]

USCIS Case Processing Times [2020]

Apply for Citizenship – Complete Guide [2020]

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