Understanding the I-751 Petition: A Guide for Conditional Permanent Residents

One of our most common case types is the marriage-based Green Card petition. However, when the couple has been married for under two years at the time of approval, they face an extra step in their immigration journey: the conditional Green Card. In this blog, we talk about the process of removing the conditions of the conditional Green Card through the I-751 petition. We discuss what the petition is, who’s eligible, the process involved, and why it is a required step for conditional permanent residents.

What is the I-751 Petition?

The I-751 petition is officially called the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. When someone is granted a Green Card before their second wedding anniversary, their status is granted on a conditional basis, valid for two years. The I-751 is later filed by the conditional resident so that the conditions can be removed and receive their permanent Green Card. 

This barrier was put in place in order to avoid so-called “Green Card Marriages,” where a couple gets married just for the immigrant spouse to obtain the Green Card and then split shortly after.

Who is Eligible?

All conditional permanent residents must petition for the I-751 to remove the conditions of their Green Card If the I-751 is not filed, residency status will be terminated by USCIS and the applicant will be placed in removal (“deportation”) proceedings. Even if the conditional resident decides they no longer want to live in the United States, they should talk with an immigration attorney about options. Otherwise, there remains a risk of removal proceedings, and obtaining any future visits to the United States may be more complicated.

What are the Different I-751 Petitions?

Ideally, a couple files the I-751 together in the 90-day window before the conditional card expires. However, life can get messy and not every marriage will last this long. USCIS has considered this and created different types of I-751s for conditional residents to apply for.

These are three types of I-751 petitions:

Joint Petition

The couple remains married after the two-year mark. This petition allows the couple to file the I-751 together within the 90-day window before the card expires. The joint petition acts as proof of the ongoing marital relationship and that the marriage was bona fide at the time of filing the original Green Card petition. 

Good Faith Waiver

The couple is no longer married at the two-year mark, either due to divorce or widowhood. This petition allows the conditional permanent resident to file the I-751 with a request for a waiver of the joint filing requirement. The petition then requires additional evidence that the marriage was entered in good faith. This type of petition can be filed anytime, even after the conditional residency expires.

Battered Spouse Waiver

The couple is no longer together due to extreme cruelty or abuse from the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. This petition allows the conditional permanent resident to file the I-751 with a request for a waiver of the joint filing requirement. The petition then requires evidence of the abuse and its impact on the marriage. Like the Good Faith Waiver, this type of I-751 can be filed at any time.

What is the Application Process?

The I-751 petition process involves several steps, and here are the main points to consider:

Determine Eligibility

Evaluate your personal circumstances and make sure that you are eligible to file the I-751. The main requirement for this is that you are a conditional permanent resident and whether you will file as a joint petitioner with your spouse, request a good faith waiver, or apply for a battered spouse waiver.

Prepare Documentation

Gather supporting documents. This varies depending on the type of I-751 you are filing. Evidence can include proof of your marital relationship and evidence of shared finances and property. The evidence regarding the relationship should be focused from the date the conditional green card was granted up through the time of filing or of the relationship’s end.

Complete and Submit Form I-751

Fill out Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, accurately and completely. You should also prepare the required filing fee and include it with your petition. Check the USCIS website for the current fee amount. You can then mail your completed Form I-751 and supporting documents to the appropriate USCIS address.

Receive USCIS Notices

Once USCIS receives your petition, they will send you a receipt notice confirming receipt and providing a unique case number for tracking. If USCIS schedules a biometrics appointment, you should attend the appointment to provide fingerprints, photographs, and a signature for identity verification. 

The receipt notice also serves as an automatic extension of status. As of now (May 2024), the automatic extension is 48 months past the original card’s expiration date. With the expired Green Card and receipt notice, applicants can still travel, work, and renew their driver’s licenses.

USCIS Processing

USCIS will then review your petition and supporting documents. In some cases, they may request additional evidence or schedule an interview to further evaluate your case. Right now (May 2024), the average adjudication time is over two years.

Decision Notification

Once USCIS decides on your petition, they will send you a written notice of their decision. If approved, you will receive a permanent Green Card. If denied, you may have the opportunity to appeal the decision or file a motion to reopen or reconsider.

Maintain Legal Status

While your petition is pending, you must continue to maintain your legal status and comply with all immigration laws and regulations. You should avoid any actions that could jeopardize your immigration status or eligibility for a permanent Green Card.

Why Consider the I-751 Petition?

Filing an I-751 petition is a crucial and required step toward obtaining permanent residency in the United States. With a permanent Green Card, you’ll enjoy the benefits of unrestricted residency, including the ability to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely, travel freely in and out of the country, and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.

Navigating the immigration system can be complex, but with the right guidance and support, you can successfully navigate the I-751 petition process and secure your status as a permanent resident of the United States. If you believe you meet the eligibility criteria for filing an I-751 petition, we’d love to work with you! 

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