Clarity and Strength in Immigration Law

Conditional Residence - Groom Putting Ring on Bride's Finger

What is Conditional Residence?

When a US citizen spouse or permanent resident petitions for a green card for their foreign national spouse and the couple has been married for less than two years as of the time the residency is approved, USCIS will grant conditional residence. When a person has conditional residence, the green card is valid for only two years (instead of the ten year green card that a permanent resident receives). To remove the conditions, the couple must file the I-751 petition to remove the conditions within the 90 day window before the green card expires. By granting conditional residence and then requiring the couple to file a petition to remove the conditions, USCIS has a second opportunity to confirm that the marriage was a bona fide relationship and not just for immigration purposes.

How Do I Remove the Conditions of My Green Card?

USCIS requires that the couple file the I-751 petition with the current USCIS filing fee to remove the conditions within the 90 days before the conditional residence expires. It is possible to waive the joint filing requirement in certain instances (where the petitioner has died, the couple is divorced, battered spouse or extreme cruelty, etc). The petition can be filed before, during, or after the 90 day period if it is being filed on the basis of a waiver.

What Do I File with the I-751 Package?

The general documents needed to file a petition to remove the conditions can be found below. Please note this is a general list for educational purposes only, and cannot be relied on as legal advice. It is important to note that any document not in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

  • Copy of permanent resident card
  • Documentation of the bona fides of your relationship which may include but is not limited to:
    • Joint lease or mortgage
    • Birth certificate of children born to the couple
    • Documentation of joint ownership of property
    • Joint bank accounts or credit card statements
    • Joint insurance (health, auto, life, car, renter’s/home owner’s, etc).
    • Photos of the couple (it is helpful to date and label the photos)
    • Affidavits from family and friends
    • Jointly filed tax returns

If you are filing based on a waiver, additional documentation will be required as well. You should consult with a qualified immigration attorney to determine what type of documentation is needed.

What is the Fee for the Removal of Conditions?

The legal fee for the I-751 petition to remove conditions with Sumner Immigration Law varies based on specific facts pertaining to your case and situation. The attorney, Emily Sumner, will discuss this in more detail when you set up a consultation. The current USCIS filing fee (as of Dec. 23, 2016) is $595, plus the biometrics fee of $85.

Will I Have an Interview for the I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions?

USCIS often requires an interview for the I-751 filing, but it is not always required. The interview provides another opportunity for USCIS to determine that your marriage is a bona fide relationship. Clients usually receive the interview notice within several months of filing. In some cases, USCIS waives the interview. Generally speaking, a well-documented I-751 filing reduces the chances of being called for an interview.

What is the Processing Timeline for the I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions?

It may take USCIS up to one year from the date of filing to process the I-751. Below you’ll find a more detailed breakdown of the process when our office prepares the filing:

Overview of I-751 Process

Step

Estimated Timeline

Receive initiation documents (engagement letter & questionnaires) from client

2-6 weeks (depends on how quickly client turns in the documents and information requested)

Gather and review all documents

Draft forms & follow up on any missing information

Send forms for signature (must have original signatures from each spouse)

1-2 weeks

File I-751 petition

Upon receiving signed forms & all documents

Receive Receipt Notice from USCIS

2-4 weeks

Receive Fingerprinting Notice

2-6 weeks

Receive joint-interview notice (usually scheduled a month in advance; unless interview is waived)

9-12 months

Have interview prep session with attorney (if filed through Sumner Immigration Law)

 

Couple attends joint-interview

 

10 year green card approved

Typically within 30 days after interview

 

Can I File the I-751 If My Spouse and I Are Divorced or Separated?

You may still file Form I-751 without your spouse if they are deceased, you are divorced/separated, or you and/or your conditional resident child were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty. Please consult with a qualified immigration attorney to discuss your options in these circumstances.

What If I Receive an RFE for My I-751?

USCIS may issue a Request For Evidence (RFE) if your application or petition has missing or incomplete information or documentation that the officer needs in order to fully evaluate your case. The request will indicate what evidence is needed and the deadline for the response. Usually you have 87 days from the date of issue to respond to the RFE.  Your case will be put on hold until the officer receives the RFE response, and then processing of your case will resume as normal. If you do not respond to the RFE within the timeframe allowed, your petition will be denied. Our office regularly assists clients who originally filed the I-751 on their own to prepare complete RFE response packages.

What Is My Status While the I-751 Is Pending? Can I Work and Travel?

If you timely file your I-751 petition, your residence status is extended until a decision is made on the I-751. The I-751 receipt notice states that it is valid for work and for travel for up to one year. If you travel outside the US while the green card is pending, you must take the original I-751 receipt notice, your passport, and the green card to re-enter the US. If you are uncertain if it is safe for you to travel, please consult with a qualified immigration attorney. If the I-751 processing takes longer than one year, it is possible to have USCIS place a temporary stamp in your passport to extend the work and travel authorization.

If you are a Sumner Immigration Law client and you are planning any travel outside the U.S., we kindly ask that you notify our office beforehand so we can ensure any travel won’t negatively affect your filing.

Address Change

If you move to a new address while your removal of conditions petition is in process, you must notify USCIS within 10 days of moving, per regulation. If you move without notifying us or USCIS of your new address, you may not receive important notices from USCIS including your receipt or fingerprint notice, interview notice, green card, etc. Note that USCIS will not re-mail your green card if you moved and didn’t notify them of your new address, and it was delivered to your old address. USCIS will only re-send the green card if it was returned to them as undeliverable.

Regulations state that you must report your change of address to USCIS until you become a U.S. citizen. Instructions for doing so can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/addresschange.

If you need assistance with a family-based or employment-based immigration matter, please contact our office at 804-396-3412 or at info@sumnerimmigration.com to learn how we can assist. We look forward to hearing from  you!