Form I-751 - Petition to Remove Conditions
Shorstein, Lasnetski, & Gihon
We help our clients through the complicated process of filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Whether you are filing a joint petition or you need to file for a waiver, we will take the burden off your shoulders of trying to navigate through all of the forms and redtape involved in the process.
If you got married to a United States citizen within two (2) years of filing for a greencard (Lawful Permanent Resident card), you will become a conditional lawful permanent resident and receive a two (2) year conditional lawful permanent resident card (also known as a conditional greencard). You must file Form I-751 within 90 days of the expiration of your conditional greencard or you will lose your lawful permanent resident status. You file this form, along with the filing fee and required evidence with USCIS. So, it is very important to consult with an attorney well in advance of the expiration of your conditional greencard.
The government's purpose for requiring you to file Form I-751 is an attempt to root out marriage fraud. The government believes that they can discover a great deal of marriage fraud if they look at all short term marriages again two years after the person gets the conditional greencard.
Both you and your U.S. citizen spouse must file a joint I-751. You must submit Form I-751, the correct filing fee, evidence that your marriage was bona fide at its inception and other evidence. Evidence of a bona fide marriage often includes evidence from the past two years that you and your spouse have financially and otherwise joined your lives together including joint bank account statements, joint cell phone records, joint utility bill statements, text message printouts, photos, facebook printouts, a lease or deed with both your names on it, and more.
People who file the Form I-751 often receive a document called an RFE - Request for Evidence. If you don't submit the correct or enough documentary evidence, you will receive this RFE with a deadline to submit the requested documents. However, USCIS does not have to issue an RFE. They can simply deny the Form I-751 outright. It is important to submit all of the required documentation the first time.
There are three exceptions to the joint filing requirement. In other words, the non-citizen can file the I-751 form without their U.S. citizen spouse under three (3) circumstances:
USCIS will often require an interview after you file the Form I-751. If you do have to appear at an interview, the questioning will often focus on the viability of the marriage. The adjudicator is trying to determine whether the marriage was entered into in good faith. They will often ask you for evidence at the interview. They will usually want to see joint bank statements, joint utility bills, joint phone records, photos and more from the time period between when you filed the I-751 and the interview.
It never hurts to consult with an attorney about your particular situation to make sure there are no landmines that await you in the process. Most immigration attorneys will give you 30 minutes to an hour of their time for a small consultation fee. In exchange, you should leave the office with more knowledge about the process, knowledge about potential problems that may not have known about, and with guidance on how you should proceed. Here at Shorstein, Lasnetski, & Gihon, we provide you with as much helpful information as we can so you can make the decision whether to retain us, to proceed on your own, or to seek another immigration attorney. We will never make you feel pressured to retain us to handle your case.