Removal of Conditions On A 2 Year Green Card: What you need to know about your I-751

Immigrants with marriage based green cards face the need to file Removal of Conditions after initially receiving two year (“conditional”) status.

Removal Of Conditions is filed on Form I-751.

Universal rule: Marriage must be entered into in good faith.

What is form I-751?

Form I-751 is used by a conditional resident ( 2 year green card holder) who obtained status through marriage, to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) remove the conditions on his or her residence.

Can I file for removal of conditions with my wife and children?

Joint filings ( with wife and/or children) are the most common in these cases.  Enlisting the assistance of a veteran immigration law firm is recommended due to the commonly seen syndrome of the “deceptively easy” forms. If you have dependent children who acquired conditional resident status on the same day as you or within 90 days thereafter, then include the names and Alien Registration Numbers (A-Numbers) of these children in Part 5 of Form I-751 in order to request that the conditions on their status be removed as well. If you have dependent children who DID NOT acquire conditional status within the same time frame then they need to file their own I-751 forms.

Can I file for removal of conditions on my green card if I am no longer with my wife/husband?

YES. you must file.

Divorce based Removal of Conditions cases with waivers are also very typical. With the high rates of marital dissolution in the United States, 751 filings based on divorce are to be expected.  In these cases, evidence of a real (“bona fide”) marriage is crucial, even if you are no longer with the person in question.

You may file Form I-751 without your spouse if:

1. You entered the marriage in good faith, but your spouse subsequently died

2. You entered the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was later terminated due to divorce or annulment

3. You entered the marriage in good faith, but you have been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by your petitioning spouse; or

4. Your conditional resident parent entered the marriage in good faith, but you have been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by your parent’s U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or by your conditional resident parent; or

5. The termination of your status and removal from the United States would result in extreme hardship.

Abuse or cruelty based Removal of Conditions:

  • The applicant should submit as much evidence as possible of couple’s time together.
  • Proof of battery during the relationship – such as police and psychological reports – is needed.
  • Detailed Affidavit of Applicant with aid of the best immigration lawyers you can locate is also strongly suggested.
  • 751 applicant must show he or she is a person of good moral character.

Extreme Hardship 751 waivers are legally available too

Be advised that this option is arguably the toughest manner by which to seek Removal of Conditions.

Extreme Hardship is not defined anywhere in the Immigration and Nationality Act but rather is found in a series of published cases from courts of law.

How long does it take for removal of conditions on my green card?

Removal of Conditions often takes from 12-18 months, and may be approved by Mail from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

If an approval by mail is not received then an Interview with an Immigration Officer may be required.

If an Officer is not satisfied with evidence and/or testimony, the case will be referred to United States Immigration Court for review of Removal of Conditions.

If an Immigration Judge denies the 751 and orders deportation, then the case may be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Can I travel after removing conditions on my green card? Can I travel after filing form I-751?

After a conditional green card has expired and before your new 10-year green card arrives, it’s necessary for a conditional resident to carry the following items when traveling abroad:

  • Valid, unexpired passport
  • Expired conditional green card
  • Valid, unexpired I-797C, Notice of Action

USCIS will mail you the I-797C, Notice of Action, after filing Form I-751. It’s a receipt letter that will also provide an extension (typically for 18 months) to your conditional residence. However, it may take USCIS several weeks to send the letter

Throughout these proceedings the applicant may be allowed temporary extensions of conditional resident status which allow continued permission to legally work and travel.

If you are looking to travel after your conditional green card has expired it’s best to hire an immigration lawyer to find out the best way to proceed to ensure that you don’t encounter problems re-entering the US after your trip.

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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