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Congratulations on your marriage to a foreign national! You have applied and received permanent resident for them to join you in the United States. However, the residency card that you received was only valid for a period of two (2) years. What gives? In this article, we will discuss the following:

  1. What is form I-751? – provide link to form as a sample
  1. Who needs to file form I-751?
  1. When to file form I-751?
  1. Where to file form I-751?
  1. How to file form I-751? – recommend following instructions for form I-751
  1. What is the Fee for form I-751?

Marriage to a non-USC citizen does not have to be complicated. However, it is necessary to keep in mind filing deadlines to make the process easier on you and your spouse. If you have any questions about the process, or you would like us to give you an opinion on your filing paperwork, please do not hesitate to contact us at 630-324-6666 to schedule an intake or a review with an immigration attorney.

What is form I-751?

Form I-751 is the form that a conditional permanent resident needs to use to remove the “conditions” on their residency. The conditions are a period that USCIS utilizes to make sure that the marriage was entered in good faith and to dissuade people who marry only to receive a green card. In the I-751 application, the petitioning couple (or individual) needs to show USCIS that they entered into the marriage in good faith, even if that marriage ended in divorce or annulment. The couple also need to show that the marriage was valid since the date of inception. To do so, the parties to the marriage must have intended to live together as husband and wife. To show this, the couple can submit:

  1. Birth certificates of children that were born during the marriage;
  1. Leases and mortgages that the couple entered together;
  1. Financial records showing joint ownership of property (i.e. cars, credit cards, bank accounts, etc.);
  1. Tax transcripts from IRS filed as married filing jointly;
  1. Insurance documents (health, car, renters, home, etc.);
  1. Copy of any other document that could show that you are living a life together (I.e. letters showing that both of you reside in the same property, copies of Id’s showing same address, pictures of things you have done together, shared expenses, shared ownership in items, etc.)

Here you can find the most up to date form from USCIS website. Please make sure that you are utilizing the correct edition to avoid your filing being rejected by USCIS. As of the date of this article, the current edition for form I-751 being accepted is 12/09/19.

Who needs to file form I-751?

If the couple is still married, both the US Citizen and the noncitizen need to file it jointly. However, if you are in the midst of divorce, the applicant could attempt to file without the USC’s signature to preserve the filing date. USCIS is likely to send a Request for Evidence requesting the USC’s signature.

If the couple has separated, the noncitizen spouse can file the I-751 individually. They need to show that they fit within one of the exceptions for joint filing. The exceptions are:

  • The petitioning spouse has passed away during the last 2 years;
  • The marriage was entered in good faith, but ended in divorce or annulment;
  • Extreme hardship would otherwise result in factors which arose subsequent to the conditional resident’s immigration status;
  • The Conditional Permanent Resident was subjected to physical abuse or extreme mental cruelty

It is important to save documents that show that the marriage was entered into in good faith. Some of these documents need to show: length of relationship before marriage, how much were the assets of the couple combined during the marriage; proof of cohabitation between the parties; birth certificates of any children born during or before the marriage to the parties; any other document that could show that the parties entered in good faith.  

To receive the extreme hardship waiver, the individual applying for removal of conditions needs to show that they will suffer extreme hardship upon removal to their home country. This hardship is that hardship which is above and beyond the deportation back to their home countries. Some of the areas of hardship include health (mental and physical), safety, education, economic, and any personal considerations. For instance, if there have been threats of violence against the petitioner, this information should be included in the application.

To receive the waiver based on physical abuse or extreme mental cruelty, the individual needs to submit evidence showing that the noncitizen suffered abuse at the hands of the USC spouse. USCIS has defined this exception as including “being the victim of any act or threatened act of violence, including any forceful detention which results or threatens to result in physical or mental injury. Psychological or sexual abuse or exploitation … shall be considered acts of violence.” Documents to show abuse could be mental health records, court records, police reports, orders of protection, medical records, and any other record or affidavit that could be provided to you based on whom the petitioner contacted while the abuse transpired and any steps the petitioner took to end the abuse.

When to file form I-751?

Form I-751 can be filed up to 90 days of the expiration of the Conditional Permanent Residency card. Please try to keep this deadline. If you are filing late, USCIS may move to initiate removal proceedings. The applicants will also need to show good cause as to why they applied late. Forgetting to apply on a timely basis is not good cause. However, family emergencies, medical emergencies, deployment, etc. can be good reasons why the applicant did not apply on time.

Where to file form I-751?

Please visit USCIS’s website on where to file form I-751 to make sure you are filing at the appropriate location.

How to file form I-751? – recommend following instructions for form I-751

Fill out all pertinent questions on the application itself. Please make sure to follow all the instructions for form I-751. The instructions for form I-751 can be found here. Please include a check made out to the department of homeland security for the appropriate fee. As of the date of this article, the fee was $595 for the application and $85 for biometrics. The applicant MUST pay the biometrics fee even if they previously paid the fee when they originally applied for their green card. All immigration applications include a background check on the applicant to make sure that they are the person they claim to be and to make sure that they have not committed any crimes that may make them inadmissible from the USA. Include all information explained in part 1 and 2, depending on whether the applicant is filing jointly or individually.

What is the Fee for form I-751?

As mentioned previously, the fee for form I-751 is $680. This includes the $595 fee for the form itself and $85 in a biometrics fee. Please make sure that the check or money order is made payable to the Department of Homeland Security. If you wish to pay with a debit or credit card, please fill out form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.

If you have questions about filing form I-751, received a request for evidence or notice of intent to deny, or you are filing late, please do not hesitate to reach call O’Flaherty Law at 630-324-6666 to speak with one of our experienced immigration attorneys.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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