Overview of the Removal of Condition Process
Congratulations, your green card through marriage has been approved! If you have been married for less than two years when your case is approved, you will receive a 2-year conditional green card (instead of a 10-year green card). The 2-year conditional green card confers the same rights and responsibilities as a 10-year green card. However, this 2-year conditional green card cannot be renewed. Instead, within the 90 days before the conditional green card expires, you must file petition to remove condition from your green card, which will allow USCIS to issue you a 10-year green card. If you do not file an I-751, you will lose your permanent resident status when your 2-year conditional green card expires.
The I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence is a form filed jointly by yourself and your petitioning spouse under assumption, in majority of circumstances, that your marriage is still valid. Form I-751 and the supporting documentation allows the government to confirm that your marriage was a legitimate, good faith marriage when you originally applied for your green card, by showing that you are still married and living together as a married couple. Supporting documentation is very important for your I-751, and when you work with a counsel, he or she will focus on helping you compile the document package reflecting the good faith nature of your marriage. Needless to say, only good faith marriages make spouses eligible not only for initial conditional green card, but also for removal of condition. Fake, sham, fraud marriages are federal crimes, and both spouses are subject to severe punishment for committing such crimes.
But what happens if you truly entered in a good faith marriage but it did not work out? Are you completely out of luck and have no option? If you are not still married to the spouse through whom you obtained your green card, you may file For I-751 unilaterally in a few different circumstances:
- You entered the marriage in good faith, but your spouse subsequently died,
- You entered the marriage in good faith, but you later divorced,
- You entered the marriage in good faith but you have been abused, or subject to extreme cruelty by your petitioning spouse, or
- The termination of your status and removal from the US would result in extreme hardship.
All of these scenarios require a different type of handling your I751 so it is highly advisable to consult an experienced immigration attorney before you proceed.
I-751 processing times are quite slow at the moment. When you submit your I-751, your receipt notice I-797 includes language extending your conditional green card for 18 months while the removal of conditions processes. Additionally, you may be scheduled for an interview while your I-751 is pending, although the majority of cases are approved without an interview.
The decisions that you make now will have a lasting impact on your immigration journey, so it is essential to consult an experienced immigration attorney to craft a strategic immigration plan. Please feel free to contact our Boston-based law firm if you have any questions regarding this issue.