I-751 REMOVAL OF CONDITIONS BASED ON MARRIAGEFrom Conditional Resident to Lawful Permanent Resident
Congratulations, you were successful in obtaining a green card through a marriage-based immigration petition and you are now a lawful permanent resident! But this may not be the end of the road for you. If at the time of your approval you were married to your U.S. citizen spouse for less than two years, your status will be that of a Conditional Permanent Resident or CPR. If this is the case, your status will grant you the same rights as a permanent resident, such as residence in the U.S. and work authorization for any employer. But later, you must file a separate application to remove the conditions on your permanent resident status or you may lose it.
This process is mandated by law to prevent fraudulent applications and sham marriages for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. You have to file your joint application within 90 days before the 2nd anniversary from your approval date as a conditional resident, or within the 90 days before your conditional green card expires. If you do not file your application to remove this conditional status on time, you may lose your permanent resident status and it will be automatically terminated by USCIS.
Removing your Conditional Resident Status
To remove your conditional resident status and become a Lawful Permanent Resident, you will first have to file a second petition with your U.S. citizen spouse to establish that your marriage:
- Was legal where it took place;
- Has not been terminated;
- Was not entered into for the purpose of procuring an immigration benefit and/or residency; and,
- Did not pay any fees other than for an attorney to assist you with filing your original petition.
In addition to your application, you will have to submit supporting evidence showing that your marriage relationship continued from the time you were first granted conditional residency status to the time your application is filed. These documents will be similar in nature to the ones you submitted with your original application. Documents such as joint ownership of property, jointly-held bank account statements, and birth certificates of children, are excellent proof that you are still living together as a married couple. Once your application is filed, you might be scheduled for an interview to prove you meet all of these eligibility requirements to remove your conditional status.
If you have certain extenuating circumstances preventing you from receiving your U.S. citizen spouses’ sponsorship for removing your condition, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney. Your attorney can help you prepare a waiver for the joint filing requirement, as well as a comprehensive application to show your marriage was not entered into for the purpose of acquiring an immigration benefit. Waivers are available for couples who are divorced. There are also additional waivers of the joint filing requirement available for spouses who have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty, and for cases in which the U.S. citizen spouse has died. If you meet any of these exceptional scenarios you might qualify to file your application on your own. However, any application to waive the joint filing requirement will be closely scrutinized by USCIS.
What if you are separated but not divorced from your U.S. citizen spouse by the time you file your application? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. A good immigration attorney will be able to find you the best way to approach your case, and at Weinstock Immigration Lawyers, we’ve had much success in helping clients overcome this hurdle.
As with any immigration application, you should carefully consider all the requirements in removing your conditions on your residency status. Call us today if you are seeking to remove your conditional status. We can help you prepare and submit a comprehensive application to USCIS and determine the best strategy should you have an extenuating circumstance that will require a waiver to remove your conditions.