[Marriage-based Green Card] Conditional Permanent Residence
Did you just get married? Congratulations! But don’t let your joy overshadow the remaining important jobs you have to do. Although this Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, is relatively less emphasized than other forms to file for permanent residence, its importance can’t be ignored as a bridge to obtain a complete green card and potentially, a U.S. citizenship later. Read this article and figure out whether your situation falls under the eligibility below.
Who should file Form I-751
A conditional green card holder is required to file Form I-751 before her green card expires. A conditional green card is issued to 1) a foreigner who has been married to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident for less than 2 years and 2) an entrepreneur (investor). For the purpose of Form I-751 process, this article doesn’t explain the second case for an entrepreneur because Form I-751 only applies to a marriage-based conditional green card. Tricky though it may be, a foreigner who is alone due to legitimate reasons such as divorce and death of its spouse is also allowed to file Form I-751. If you want to learn about a marriage-based green card in general, make sure to read this article.
When you should file Form I-751
Generally, the so-called 90-day rule applies to joint filing of a married couple. In other words, you must file Form I-751 during the 90-day period before your conditional residence expires. Note that USCIS will reject your application if you file too early, more than 90 days before the end of your conditional residence.
But the 90-day rule is not imposed when you file Form I-751 without your spouse if they passed away, you are divorced, or you and/or your conditional resident child were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty. USCIS also provides a tool to calculate your filing date here.
What you need to submit
USCIS provides an instruction and a list of supporting document, but since it is not exhaustive, you may feel confused as to what to submit. To summarize:
- A copy of your permanent resident card or alien registration card, both front and back sides of the card.
If you are filing jointly:
- Evidence of the relationship with your spouse including, but not limited to:
All joint tax returns with W-2s and 1099s since marriage
Joint Bank Statements spanning from the date of marriage to the present
Joint Credit Card Statements from the date of marriage to the present with beneficiary’s transaction history
Joint automobile purchase, lease, financing, and/or registration documents
Joint Insurance Policy Confirmation (life, health, renter’s, automobile, etc.)
Joint property deed, purchase agreements and/or mortgage documents, if own a property
A list of memorable events since marriage
Greeting cards from friends and/or to each other
Affidavit to one family member and one friend as witness
Birth certificate(s) of your children, if any
The list can go on as long as you have enough evidence to prove your legitimate relationship.
If you are filing individually, a list of documents will be longer and look different depending on your situation. For example:
- If your marriage has been terminated: a copy of the final divorce decree or other document terminating or annulling the marriage with your petition with evidence of the qualifying relationship.
- If you and/or your conditional resident 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.
Any legal documents relating to an order of protection against the abuser or relating to any legal steps you may have taken to end the abuse.
Evidence that you sought safe haven in a shelter for the abused or similar refuge, as well as photographs evidencing your injuries; and
A copy of your divorce decree, if your marriage was terminated by divorce on grounds of physical abuse or extreme cruelty.
- If 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 this country after extended stays.
- A child filing separately from your parent:
a full explanation as to why you are filing separately, along with copies of any supporting documentation.
You may also find this article useful for proving your bona fide marriage.
If you don’t file Form I-751 within a time frame, your 2-year green card will no longer be used and it may have you go through the removal process. In other words, you may be asked to leave the U.S.
Make sure your application time window isn’t closed yet before it’s too late. Also, don’t forget to download Lawfully case tracker app and track your I-751 application in real time!