If you are someone from a foreign country and you were married to your U.S. Citizen spouse for less than 2 years when you came to the U.S. on an immigrant visa or less than 2 years when you were approved for your green card then you would have received a conditional green card rather than a permanent green card.
This conditional green card is valid for two years. Before the expiration of these two years the person will need to fill out and submit USCIS Form I-751 to convert their conditional residency to permanent residency. If this is not done then USCIS can and will take steps to deport (remove) you. Therefore, please take this matter very seriously.
If you are unsure whether or not you have a conditional green card simply look at it. The green card itself will tell you if it is a conditional green card and its date of expiration.
Why Does USCIS require me to go through the I-751 process?
The reason for these two years of conditional residence is to allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to make a thorough check and take a second look at whether this marriage is bona fide or valid before it allows someone to stay in the U.S. permanently. (They must figure that if your were married for more than 2 years at the time of your green card issuance that your marriage is more stable and there is less of a reason to make sure that you are still married).
During your two years of conditional residency, a person will have all the day-to-day rights of a permanent green card holder. This means that a person can work, travel in and out of the United States, and even include these two years to the count of the three or five years of residence you will need to collect before applying for U.S. citizenship (naturalization). How much time you need to wait to file for your citizenship depends on your circumstances.
Towards the end of the 2 year period, a person will need to take steps to make their green card permanent. Please remember if a person does not follow the correct procedures, then they risk losing their conditional and permanent resident status and can face deportation (removal) from the United States.
When To Apply
In order to convert this conditional status to permanent status, a person will need to submit a petition to remove conditions on green card by filling out Form I-751, complete with documents and fees, to the appropriate USCIS Service Center up to 90 days before the date this conditional residence status expires. But remember if someone sends this petition too soon, that is, earlier than 90 days before the conditional residence expires, then that person will get it right back from USCIS. But in case if somebody fails to file the petition by the expiration date, than that card and the conditional residence status will both expire and that person could be deported. So it’s important to keep track of the expiration date.
Documents required to be submitted along with the Form I-751
In such a case the most important information a person needs to submit is evidence of their marital relationship. It is almost like the types of documents a person provides for adjustment of status or consular interview? These documents might include copies of rent receipts, joint bank, insurance, or credit card statements, and their children’s birth certificates. You will also need to prepare at least 2 affidavits from people who know your marriage is real and are willing to testify to this fact under oath. You should include only documents covering the last two years as USCIS is not interested to see items that were submitted earlier.
In case a person is late in submission
If a person misses the deadline by a short time, there is no need to panic. If someone is late in submitting by only a few weeks, than that person needs to mail the application with a cover letter, explaining the delay. There are regulations in place that allows a person to file late for ‘good cause’. Good cause may include a family or medical crisis, a move, or a change in job, whatever the reason is a person should remember to back it up with documentary proof.
In any case it is always a good idea to consult with an immigration lawyer prior to filing anything with USCIS.
Lawrence Gruner is a fiancé visa attorney, a fiancé visa lawyer, a green card attorney and a green card lawyer. He has helped individuals obtain their green cards for almost 20 years. He would be happy to talk to you about your situation. He helps clients in California, the United States and the World. He would be happy to help you too. He may be reached at 888-801-6558. This article was titled: Remove Conditions on Green Card.