In a recent blog post, we told you all about the I-751 Removal of Conditions Application. In this segment we will briefly cover the basics of the I-751 Removal of Conditions Application and what you can expect one you have filed the application with USCIS.
The I-751 Removal of Conditions Application is filed by conditional permanent residents who gained their ‘conditional’ permanent resident status, based on their marriage to a United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident. An easy way to know whether you have been given a conditional green card is by checking the abbreviations that appear on your green card under immigrant ‘category.’ If your green card contains the abbreviation ‘CR’ under the immigrant category, then you are a conditional permanent resident. Additionally, if your green card was granted for only a 2 year period, then you have received a conditional green card.
Who must file the Removal of Conditions Application?
It is important to understand who must file the Removal of Conditions Application. If you are still married to the same person through which you gained your ‘conditional’ permanent residence (2- year green card), and you wish to obtain a 10-year permanent green card, you must file an I-751 application for removal of conditions jointly with your spouse. If you have divorced your spouse, you may still apply for removal of conditions on your own, however you must provide substantial proof of bona fide marriage. Applications that are filed by the ‘conditional’ permanent resident alone, are called I-751 waiver applications. Regardless of whether you will be filing the I-751 application with your spouse, or filing the I-751 waiver application alone, applicants must be prepared to demonstrate that they entered their marriage in ‘good faith’ and not for the purposes of evading the immigration laws of the United States. In other words, the additional process to remove the conditions on your permanent residence, is a fraud prevention mechanism to safeguard against sham marriages.
The removal of conditions application must be filed only by those individuals who were given a two-year conditional green card by USCIS. USCIS issues 2-year conditional green cards to foreign spouses (and LPRs) who have been married to a U.S. Citizen for less than to two years, on the date that the green card application is approved. Foreign spouses who have been married to their U.S. Citizen spouse for more than two years, on the date the green card application is approved, receive permanent 10-year green cards, and do not need to apply for removal of conditions.
When should I file?
Applicants must file their removal of conditions application within the 90-day window immediately before the conditional green card expires. Failure to do so can result in serious consequences including removal from the United States. If all goes well and the conditional permanent resident card is approved, the 10-year permanent green card is mailed to the applicant.
What is the processing time?
The adjudication process for an I-751 application can vary widely. I-751 applications that are filed jointly with the US Citizen spouse may take anywhere from 6-8 months to process. Waiver applications filed by the green card holder alone, may take anywhere from 8-12 months to process. Waiver applications are more heavily scrutinized and typically require an interview to be conducted, however waiver applications are not always scheduled for an interview. Sometimes a request for evidence is sufficient to take care of any additional evidence to establish that the marriage was entered in ‘good faith.’ If the immigration officer reviewing the application determines that more information is needed such as additional proof of bona fide marriage, or if they feel that the applicant’s testimony is necessary to determine whether or not the marriage was entered in ‘good faith,’ then an interview is likely to be scheduled, for both jointly filed and waiver applications.
Can you travel internationally while your application is pending?
Yes, as long as you have a valid unexpired green card you may travel internationally once you have filed your removal of conditions application with USCIS. Here is the crux. You must remain in the United States to attend your biometrics appointment and appear at the designated ASC office so that USCIS may take your fingerprints. You should not travel internationally until you have done this.
Timeline of the I-751 Removal of Conditions Application
The following timeline reflects the typical processing time for a regular I-751 application filed jointly with the spouse:
Once the application has been filed, the conditional permanent resident can expect the following to occur:
- Within 2-3 weeks of filing, the applicant will receive a receipt notice in the mail indicating that the application has been received and is processing normally. The receipt notice will also extend the applicant’s conditional permanent resident status for a one-year period;
- Within 3-4 weeks of filing, the applicant will receive a biometrics appointment notice to capture the applicant’s photograph, fingerprints, and signature;
- After the biometrics appointment notice is received, the applicant will need to wait approximately 4-5 months until they receive any additional notices from USCIS. Applicants may receive a request for evidence or be scheduled for an interview if they have provided unsatisfactory evidence to convince USCIS that the marriage was entered in ‘good faith;’
- If an interview notice will be issued to the applicant, it is typically issued within 5-6 months from the date of filing. This time frame can vary for waiver applications since these types of applications take longer to review and adjudicate;
- If the applicant is scheduled for an interview, it is recommended that the applicant seek counsel from an attorney who will prepare him/her for the interview, and attend the interview with them;
- If no request for evidence is issued or interview notice is issued, the typical processing time for a jointly filed application is 6-8 months. Waiver applications may take anywhere from 7-12 months to process. If your application is taking more than 12 months to process, you must make an Infopass appointment to receive an extension of your conditional permanent resident status, especially if you must travel internationally.