Form I-751 is a crucial step in your immigration journey if you’ve obtained conditional permanent resident status through marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. This form allows you to apply to remove the conditions on your residence, paving the way for permanent residency.
What is Form I-751?
Form I-751, officially known as the “Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence,” is a form used by conditional permanent residents to request the removal of the conditions on their permanent resident status obtained through marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
When a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and has been married for less than two years at the time of obtaining permanent resident status, they receive what is called a “conditional” green card. This conditional status is valid for two years.
To transition from conditional permanent resident status to unconditional permanent resident status, the couple must jointly file Form I-751 during the 90-day period immediately before the conditional residence expires. This joint petition aims to prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading U.S. immigration laws.
The primary purpose of Form I-751 is to provide evidence to USCIS that the marriage is genuine and ongoing. It requires submission of documentation, such as joint financial records, leases or mortgages showing joint ownership, birth certificates of any children born during the marriage, and affidavits from friends and family attesting to the authenticity of the relationship.
Upon approval of Form I-751, the conditions on the permanent resident status are removed, and the individual receives a regular, 10-year green card, granting them permanent resident status without conditions.
Who Needs to File Form I-751?
Form I-751, the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, needs to be filed by individuals who have obtained conditional permanent resident status through marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
Specifically, those who need to file Form I-751 include individuals who:
- Received a Conditional Green Card: If you were granted conditional permanent resident status based on marriage and your marriage was less than two years old at the time of obtaining your green card, you must file Form I-751.
- Are Still Married: You should file jointly with your spouse within the 90-day period immediately before your conditional green card expires. Filing jointly is the typical procedure, but there are exceptions for cases involving divorce, abuse, or extreme hardship.
- Are Dependent Children: In certain cases where the conditional permanent resident’s children also obtained conditional status at the same time, they might be included in the same I-751 petition.
When Should You File Form I-751?
Form I-751 should be filed during the 90-day window immediately before the expiration of your two-year conditional permanent resident status. It’s crucial to submit the form and all required documentation within this specific timeframe.
Here’s a breakdown of the timeline:
- 90-Day Filing Window: You should file Form I-751 jointly with your spouse during the 90 days before the expiration date of your conditional green card.
- Expiration of Conditional Green Card: Conditional permanent resident status is valid for two years. Before this status expires, it’s imperative to initiate the process of removing conditions on your residency by filing Form I-751.
- Filing Late or After Expiration: Failing to file Form I-751 within this 90-day period may lead to severe consequences, including the loss of lawful permanent resident status and potential removal from the United States.
Documents Required for Form I-751
Form I-751, the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, requires specific documents to support your application for the removal of the conditions on your permanent resident status obtained through marriage. Here’s a list of essential documents you’ll need to submit along with Form I-751:
- Copy of Conditional Green Card (Form I-551): Include a clear photocopy of both sides of your two-year conditional green card.
- Proof of a Bona Fide Marriage: Provide evidence that your marriage is legitimate and not solely for immigration purposes. This may include but is not limited to:
- Joint financial documents (bank statements, joint tax returns, insurance policies)
- Leases or mortgage documents showing joint ownership or residence
- Birth certificates of any children born into the marriage
- Affidavits from friends, family, or third parties attesting to the authenticity of your relationship
- Personal Documents Showing Continued Marital Relationship: Include documents that demonstrate an ongoing marital relationship beyond the wedding. This might consist of:
- Photos of you and your spouse together at various events or occasions
- Correspondence addressed to both of you at the same address
- Travel records showing vacations taken together
- Legal Documents: If there have been any legal issues or changes in your marital status (such as divorce or separation), include official documentation to clarify the situation.
- Additional Evidence: Any other documents that can substantiate the legitimacy of your marriage and your ongoing relationship. This could involve:
- Joint utility bills (electricity, water, gas)
- Correspondence between both spouses (emails, letters)
- Affidavits or statements from individuals who have knowledge of your relationship
- Form I-751 Fee Payment: Ensure that you include the required fee with your application, unless you qualify for a fee waiver.
Remember, it’s crucial to submit a comprehensive and well-organized package of evidence to support your case. Include a cover letter summarizing the contents of your submission to provide USCIS officers with a clear overview of your application.
Always check the latest USCIS guidelines or consult with an immigration attorney to ensure you have the most up-to-date and accurate information before submitting your Form I-751 and accompanying documents.