Ensure a Successful Transition 

File the Form I – 751 within 90 days of the Expiration of the Two-Year Card!

If you were granted a two year permanent resident card, your status as a lawful permanent resident is conditional. This means that you must file a Form I – 751 petition for removal of conditions in the period beginning 90 days prior to the two year card expiring. It must not be filed early, and must not be filed late – i.e., after the card expires, or you risk termination of status and removal from the United States.

  1. Jointly Filed Petitions: Form I – 751 is considered jointly filed when, at the time of filing, the US citizen and conditional resident are still married and both sign the petition. The couple should also be living together, or it is strongly recommended that an attorney is retained to help with the filing.  Frequently, in jointly-filed cases, particularly when a sufficient amount of evidence is submitted with the filing, the couple does not have to appear for an interview.
  2. Widows/ Widowers: Form I -751 may be filed by the widow(er) of the US citizen if the marriage was entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading immigration laws.  The widow(er) will be required to show proof that the US citizen petitioner has deceased and evidence of the good faith marriage.
  3. Divorce or Annulment: Form I – 751 may be filed by a permanent resident who has since divorced the US citizen spouse.  The divorce must be final and the permanent resident will be required to demonstrate that he or she entered the marriage in good faith and not for the purposes of committing immigration fraud.  It is strongly recommended that an attorney is retained to help file this case type.
  4. Battery or Extreme Cruelty: Form I – 751 may be filed by a lawful permanent resident who was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by his or her US citizen spouse.  Divorce is not require to meet this standard.   It is strongly recommended that an attorney is retained to help file this case type.
  5. Form I – 751 may be filed if the conditional permanent resident can demonstrate that he or she will suffer an “extreme hardship” if he or she is removed.  There are many complex issues surrounding this waiver.  It is strongly recommended that an attorney is retained to help file this case type.

Failure to file the petition to remove conditions within the 90 day window prior to the expiration of the two-year green card will result in additional requirements, and may even cause the immigrant to be placed in removal proceedings.  Furthermore, since the receipt notice (Form I-797) for the Form I-751 will serve as the immigrant’s work authorization document, it is critical that the case is filed towards the beginning of the 90-day window.  The reason is that USCIS often delays in delivering the receipt for this case type.  While they generally produce it much sooner, on occasion it can take them up to two months to provide a receipt.  If the case is not filed well enough in advance of the card expiration, the immigrant would then lack evidence of work permission for the HR department and could be let go from their job or unable to travel internationally.

Amanda and Josie plan ahead and hire the law office 120 days prior to the Josie’s two-year green card expiration date.  The attorney prepares and submits the case 88 days prior to the card expiration.  Before the two-year card expires, Josie receives the receipt notice in the mail and provides it to her HR department.  They are pleased that all paperwork is in order and Josie receives a promotion for being a reliable and valued employee. 

Same as the prior example, but assume the couple waits until 30 days prior to the two-year card expiration to file the petition to remove conditions.  USCIS takes longer than one month to provide a receipt notice.  In this scenario, the HR department gets upset with Josie as they are technically risking an audit by permitting her to continue working.

Emmanuel and Tania do not think they need a lawyer at all.  Emmanuel’s two-year green card is about to expire, so they go online and file a Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.  Unfortunately, that was the wrong application to file.  USCIS takes the filing fees, waits several months and then terminates Emmanuel’s status as a permanent resident.  USCIS then sends him a letter indicating he will be placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.  The couple calls the Law Office of Michael J. McCarroll, who is able to assist, but only after they lost time and money.  Additionally, if they are placed in removal proceedings before the attorney is able to fix the problem, the will need to pay additional legal fees for in-court representation.

Proper Evidence and Full Disclosure

People who file their case without an attorney often make mistakes related to the type of evidence they submit and other more serious issues.  You should not underestimate the formal nature of a petition to remove conditions on residency.  Mistakes can lead to delay and even denial in some cases.

Sam and Bettina file their case without the assistance of an attorney.  They gather a large amount of evidence to submit with the application, including photos, tax returns, bank statements and lease agreements.  Despite providing over 200 pages of evidence, USCIS issues a “Request for Evidence” further delaying their case.  Typical USCIS comments on the RFE include the following: 

  1. We cannot verify that the tax returns were filed with the IRS, please provide tax transcripts 
  2. We cannot verify when the photos of the couple were taken, please provide photos with time stamps
  3. There is not enough evidence of the relationship, please provide more  

Receiving a RFE like this is disheartening to say the least.  It leads to a lot of unnecessary stress for the couple.  Moreover, if the RFE response is not adequate, USCIS will seek to interview the couple, causing further delay.

Josiah and Blake are having a difficult time with their relationship when the case is filed.  They are spending time living apart, but they use the same address on the I-751 so that USCIS does not deny the case.  However, USCIS discovers they are living apart through their investigative techniques.  Since they were dishonest about the addresses, USCIS believes they were likely dishonest about the entire marriage.  This is not a good position to be in.  Had they filed the case with us, we would have instructed them to disclose that they were living apart at the beginning of the case to avoid this problem altogether.