If you recently married a United States citizen or permanent resident and your marriage was less than 2 years old when United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted your green card petition, your residence status is conditional.
USCIS placed conditions on your residency status because they want to make sure that you did not get married only to come to the United States legally.
USCIS looks down on such behavior, as such a practice would count as marriage fraud.
However, the good news is that if your marriage is legitimate, you may be able to remove the conditions on your residency once you are eligible.
Am I Eligible to Remove the Conditions From My Residency?
You are eligible to remove the conditions on your permanent residence status if:
- You and your spouse are married after 2 years;
- Your spouse passed away, but your marriage was in good faith;
- You and your spouse divorced, but you entered into the marriage in good faith; or,
- You or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your spouse.
I’m Eligible to Remove Conditions from My Permanent Residency, What’s Next?
In order to begin the process of switching your status in the U.S. from conditional residency to permanent residency, you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence.
USCIS requires that you and your spouse file a joint I-751 petition to remove your conditions.
You should apply 90 days before the expiration date on your green card.
If you and your spouse are no longer married or he or she refuses to sign the petition, you can request a waiver of the joint-filing requirement and apply alone.
I Am Able to File Jointly with My Spouse:
Ideally, you and your spouse are still in marital bliss at the time of filing the I-751 petition. In this case, filing jointly is no problem.
Just make sure you file before your 2 year conditional deadline listed on your green card, otherwise you may lose your U.S. residence and risk being deported.
Form I-751 can be found on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/i-751.
In addition to filling out the form, you and your spouse must provide additional documentation proving your marriage is legitimate.
Unfortunately, many couples take advantage of the immigration laws in the United States.
For this reason, you must convince USCIS that your marriage was not for the sole purpose of obtaining U.S. residency.
Things you may send with your application include:
- Joint bank account statements
- Evidence that you and your spouse are living together
- Joint insurance policy statements
- Leases and contracts with both of your names listed
- Affidavits from friends explaining how they know you and your spouse and that your marriage is legitimate.
I Am Unable to File Jointly with My Spouse:
If you are no longer married or your spouse is unwilling to sign the I-751 petition, you should request a waiver of the joint-filing requirement.
USCIS typically grants a waiver in the following circumstances:
- The marriage has legally ended by divorce or death
- You or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your spouse
- Removal from the U.S. would cause you extreme hardship
You must apply for a waiver before your conditional residency expires.
There is no separate form to request a waiver of the I-751 joint filing requirement.
Just check the box that applies to your situation under the waiver section listed on Form I-751.
In addition to providing the same information as the joint petition, you will have to submit evidence sufficient to prove one of the above circumstances applies to you.
Common I-751 Questions
Where Do I Send My I-751 Application?
The Form I-751, all additional documents, and the filing fee should be mailed to one of two USCIS Service Centers:
USCIS California Service Center
P.O. Box 10751
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1075
USCIS Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden Street
P.O. Box 200
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001
The address where you file your I-751 depends on the state in which you live.
Check with www.uscis.gov/i-751 to verify which filing address applies to you.
Keep in mind that addresses are subject to change. You can always check with USCIS for the most updated filing information.
What Happens After I Mail In My I-751 Application?
After USCIS receives your application, you will receive a receipt, Form-I-797, in the mail.
The final step is attending a biometrics appointment, which USCIS will schedule for you.
During the biometrics appointment, the officer will take your photo, obtain your signature and process your fingerprints for a criminal background check.
If your application is approved, you will receive your permanent resident card in the mail.
The key is to remain patient. USCIS processes many applications each year on a first-come-first-serve basis and can sometimes become backed up.
You can check current processing times on the USCIS website.
I Missed My Deadline, Now What?
You should try your best to file your Form I-751 before your conditional residency expires because once the deadline has passed, your conditional resident status will be terminated and removal proceedings against you may be initiated.
You may still be able to file the form if you can prove that you had a really good reason for missing the deadline.
Whether your reason is good enough will be determined by the director of the USCIS Service Center.