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Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residency (I-751 Process)

An immigrant’s “Green Card” has a 2-year expiration date if it was obtained based on a marriage that was less than 2 years old on the day the card was approved. This is true whether the Green Card is obtained by someone already in the U.S. (adjustment of status), or by someone entering the U.S. with an immigrant visa (consular processing).

How Does the Conditional Green Card Become Permanent?

Immigration law provides that the conditional green card holder must prove that the marriage is bona fide. Therefore, within 90 days prior to the expiration of the conditional card, the couple must jointly submit documents and paperwork to immigration authorities to prove that the marriage is legitimate. The conditions will be lifted and a permanent Green Card will be granted if the holder is still married to the same U.S. citizen or permanent resident after 2 years (children may be included in the application if they received their conditional resident status at the same time or within 90 days).

An I-751 Waiver may be Available When Joint Removal of Conditions is not Possible

For one reason or another, the citizen or resident spouse sometimes does not always agree to jointly participate in the conditions removal process. For example, the couple may be no longer be on agreeable terms, or in the process of divorce. U.S. immigration provides for several exceptions to the joint filing requirement, including:

  • Good Faith Marriage Waiver: To receive this waiver, the marriage must have ended through divorce or annulment and the couple must prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith. This is very fact-sensitive and will be scrutinized in detail by immigration officials. For individuals whose divorce or annulment is pending, USCIS will sometimes permit additional time for the dissolution decree to be issued.
  • Abused Spouse Waiver: This waiver is for spouses (or their children) that were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by their citizen or permanent resident spouse. As in the good faith marriage waiver, the applicant must show that the marriage was entered into was legitimate and not solely for immigration purposes. This waiver can be submitted at any time after one becomes a conditional resident, but prior to the immigrant’s removal the U.S.
  • Extreme Hardship Waiver: Available where the termination of conditional resident status would cause extreme hardship to the immigrant spouse.

If an I-751 Removal of Conditions Application is Denied

The conditional resident status of a conditional Green Card holder that fails to properly file to remove conditions before his or her second anniversary as a conditional resident, will have their status automatically terminated and USCIS will begin removal proceedings. The resident will receive a Notice to Appear (NTA) for an immigration court hearing regarding their removal (deportation). A defense in immigration court is possible, but conditional green card holders should not allow their immigration status to get to this point if it can be avoided.  An NTA for removal proceedings will also be issued if there is a denial of the application to remove conditions.

Unfortunately, far too many conditional residents come to Khurgel Immigration Law Firm after their I-751 has been denied, or after they have been placed into removal proceedings. Removal of conditional residency is a delicate process, and if done properly, should result in a Permanent Green Card rather than future immigration problems. Schedule a consultation to discuss the I-751 process and preparation of your case with Attorney Khurgel.

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