I-751 Remove Conditions on Two-Year Green Card
Updated on 11/17/2023
You may think that the term, “I-751”, refers to one of the many interstate highways around the United States.
Instead, I-751 is part of a different type of road for many immigrants – the road to green card success. I-751 describes what can be a critical form in the immigration process for many immigrants seeking a green card.
This article describesthe key issues concerning Form I-751.
I-751 Remove Conditions on Green Card
A green card is a valuable benefit for immigrants. With a green card, the immigrant can have the right to permanently reside and work in the United States.
While there are many ways to obtain a green card, one of the most common methods is through marriage. There are two types of marriage green cards:
- You can obtain a green card if you marry a U.S. citizen. A green card that is obtained by being the spouse of a U.S. citizen is an “immediate relative” green card. An immediate relative green card is particularly beneficial because there are an unlimited number of immediate relative green cards that are available. Immediate relative green cards are not subject to any quota limitation that can slow the ability to be issued a green card.
- You can obtain a green card if you marry a U.S. green card holder. A green card that is obtained by being the spouse of a U.S. green card holder is a “family preference” green card. A family preference green card is not as advantageous as an immediate relative green card because a family preference green card can be subject to both numerical and country (based on the country of birth of the foreign spouse seeking a green card) quotas. Because of these quotas, it generally can take longer to obtain a family preference green card than an immediate relative green card.
A green card will generally be in effect for 10 years and be able to be renewed indefinitely. However, certain marriage green cards can be subject to a key limitation.
If the marriage supporting the green card has been in effect for less than two years when the foreign spouse becomes a U.S. green card holder, the marriage green card will be issued on a conditional basis. Such a marriage green card is often referred to as a “CR1 visa”. The “C” in the CR1 visa means that the marriage green card is conditional.
A conditional green card is better than no green card, as while the conditions are met, the holder of the conditional green card generally will have green card rights.
However, given that a green card is intended to grant the right to permanently reside and work in the United States, no one wants a conditional green card that is not permanent. How do you remove the conditions on a conditional marriage green card and convert it into an “unconditional”marriage green card?
The answer is Form I-751.
I-751 Filing Time Deadline
Just as there is a key time period to determine if a conditional marriage green card is issued(was the marriage in effect for at least two years when the foreign spouse became a U.S. green card holder), there is another key time period to remove the conditional status of a conditional marriage green card.
The conditional marriage green card is in effect for two years. To remove the conditions on the conditional marriage green card, Form I-751 must be filed during the 90-day time period immediately before the conditional green card is due to expire; in other words, Form I-751 must be filed during the 90-day time period immediately before the second anniversary date of the conditional green card.
For example, if your conditional marriage green card has an expiration date of June 1, 2022 (the second anniversary date of the conditional green card), you need to file Form I-751 to remove conditions on the green card during the 90-day period immediately before June 1, 2022.
If Form I-751 is not filed during this 90-day time period immediately before the second anniversary date of the conditional green card, the conditional green card may no longer be considered in effect, and proceedings may be commenced to remove the foreign spouse from the United States.
Form I-751 is generally filed jointly by the married spouses (“Joint Filing”) if they are still married. In the case of a Joint Filing, the above-described “90-day” filing time deadline applies.
It is also possible that Form I-751 is only filed by the foreign spouse. This can occur in the event the U.S. spouse died, the marriage was terminated by divorce, the foreign spouse (and/or any child) has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty, or the termination of the foreign spouse’s status and removal from the United States would result in extreme hardship (such death, divorce, battered or subjected to extreme cruelty, and extreme hardship circumstances are each considered “waiver of the joint filing requirement” circumstances). Under any of these circumstances (“Waiver or Individual Filing Request”), Form I-751 may be filed at any time before the foreign spouse is removed from the United States rather than before the expiration date of the conditional marriage green card.
In addition to the above-described “90-day” filing time deadline, certain specific requirements must be followed concerning Form I-751.
Completion of I-751
Form I-751 (officially known as “Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence”) is 11 pages. It consistsof the following partsto be completed:
- Part 1 – “Information About You, the Conditional Resident”.
- Part 2 – “Biographic Information”.
- Part 3 – “Basis for Petition”. Whether Form I-751 is based on a “Joint Filing” or a “Waiver or Individual Filing Request” must be indicated.
- Part 4 – “Information About the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse. If Filing as a Child Separately, Information About the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Stepparent Through Whom You Gained Your Conditional Residence”. Please note that children either can be included as part of the parent’s Form I-751 (if they received conditional green card status either at the same time as, or within 90 days of, the parent)or can file their own Form I-751, if applicable.
- Part 5 – “Information About Your Children”.
- Part 6 – “Accommodations for Individuals With Disabilities and/or Impairments”.
- Part 7 – “Petitioner’s Statement, Contact Information, Acknowledgement of Appointment at USCIS Application Support Center, Certification, and Signature”.
- Part 8 – “Spouse’s or Individual Listed in Part 4.’s Statement, Contact Information, Acknowledgement of Appointment USCIS Application Support Center, Certification and Signature (if applicable)”.
- Part 9 – “Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature”.
- Part 10 – “Contact Information, Statement, Certification, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Petition, If Other Than the Petitioner”.
- Part 11 – “Additional Information”. Extra space to provide any additional information is available.
Documents to Submit with I-751
Besides completing the Form I-751, you also may need to submit the following documents:
- Copy of the front and back sides of the applicable conditional green card;
- Evidence that the marriage supporting the conditional green card was entered in “good faith” and not for the purpose of circumventing immigration laws. This evidence can include but not limited to birth certificates of children born during the time of the marriage, joint tax return, lease or mortgage certificates showing joint occupancy and/or ownership of the communal residence, financial records showing joint ownership of assets and joint responsibility for liabilities, family-plan insurance policy(ies), and “Affidavit for Real Marriage” letters (as described below);
- If you are filing as an individual due to the death of your spouse, a copy of the applicable death certificate;
- If you are filing as an individual because your marriage has been terminated, a copy of the final divorce decree;
- If you are filing as an individual because you (and/or your child) were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty, evidence of the abuse, such as copies of reports or official records issued by police, courts, medical personnel, school officials, clergy, social workers, and other social service agency personnel;
- If you are filing because the termination of your status and removal would result in “extreme hardship”, evidence that your removal would result in hardship significantly greater than the hardship encountered by other foreign nationals who are removed from the United Statesafter extended stays; and
- Various criminal history information, including dispositions on criminal charges, arrests, or convictions, if applicable. A certified copy is generally USCIS wants.
“Affidavit for Real Marriage” Letter
One type of document that may be important to submit with Form I-751 is an “Affidavit for Real Marriage” letter.
An “Affidavit for Real Marriage” letter is an affidavit (often written in letter form) from someone who has personal knowledge of your marital relationship and can affirm that it was entered in “good faith”. It is possible that the person signing the “Affidavit for Real Marriage” letter may be required to testify before an immigration officer as to the information contained in the letter.
If there is other significant evidence to establish that the marriage was entered in “good faith”, it is not mandatory that “Affidavit for Real Marriage” letters be submitted. However, if one or two credible persons with personal knowledge of the marital relationship can sign a favorable “Affidavit for Real Marriage” letter, it can be helpful in the approval of Form I-751. Click here to have a template Affidavit for Real Marriage.
What Happened after Filing I-751?
Form I-751 is filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). USCIS will issue a notice, on Form I-797 (see below), that Form I-751 has been received. This Form I-797 receipt is important because it can be presented with an otherwise expired green card to extend its validity for up to 48 months.
Even if your Form I-751 is still not processed after these 48 months, your conditional green card should remain valid until Form I-751 has been reviewed by USCIS; if you need proof of your lawful permanent residence status in order to renew driver license, apply for a job, or have international travel, you can contact USCIS and schedule an appointment to get an extension stamped in your passport (called “I-551 stamp”).
If you never have a biometrics appointment at USCIS Application Support Center before, you will receive a biometrics appointment notice to require you to take fingerprint and photos at the designated Application Support Center in approximately 2-8 months after filing the Form I-751.
As part of reviewing your Form I-751, USCIS may write you to request additional evidence. It is also likely that you and your spouse will need to attend an in-person interview with a USCIS official.
If USCIS approves your Form I-751, you will receive a notice of approval, followed by a new, “unconditional” green card.
If USCIS denies your Form I-751, you will receive a decision explaining the reason for the denial. You may also be issued a Notice to Appear in front of an immigration judge for removal proceedings. If the immigration judge (who may review the denial of your Form I-751 during removal proceedings) issues an order of removal, you have 30 days to appeal the decision. After you properly file Form EOIR-26, Notice of Appeal from a Decision of an Immigration Judge, the appeal will be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
The filing fee for Form I-751 is $595.
In addition, you must pay a biometric service fee of $85 per filing person (means yourself and dependent child if the child is included and filed together in your petition).
As Form I-751 is a complicated document, it is recommended that you hire an attorney or immigration consultant to assist you with obtaining approval of Form I-751. The cost of such attorney or immigration consultant also should be included when you determine your overall costs in connection with Form I-751.
I-751 Processing Time
It can be frustrating to be issued a conditional marriage green card. You have already incurred significant cost and spent significant time to obtain a marriage green card and then you are told that it is only a conditional marriage green card based on the date of your marriage.
Nevertheless, you should remain optimistic. If in fact your marriage was entered in “good faith” and not for the purpose of circumventing immigration laws, you have a very good chance that Form I-751 will be approved and your conditional marriage green card will become an “unconditional” marriage green card.
DYgreencard — Immigration lawyer, at an affordable price.