U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will give you a conditional green card if your marriage was less than two years old when you applied for permanent residence. Conditional green cards are not valid for as long as regular green cards. You will have to eventually ask U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to remove the conditions on your card so that you can have access to your permanent resident benefits on a long-term basis. This article explains Form I-751 (“Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence”), when to file it, how to file it, and what to expect after filing it with the U.S. government.
What is Form I-751?
Form I-751 is officially named "Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence." It is an application to change a 2-year conditional green card into a 10-year green card.
The conditional green cards, or CR-1 green cards, give people conditional permanent resident status. They are for people gaining permanent residence through a marriage of fewer than two years to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. By "removing conditions," you can extend the length of your green card’s validity.
Form I-751 explains to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that though your marriage was new when you applied for the green card, it is genuine and wasn't just for the immigration benefits.
If you are a conditional resident, but your marriage has ended, you can still apply to remove conditions. However, you will have to prove your wedding was in good faith, or legitimate, at the time.
When should you file Form I-751?
The right time to file Form I-175 depends on whether you are filing with your spouse and whether your current conditional green card has expired.
If you are still married and filing jointly with your spouse:
You and your spouse should submit a joint petition within 90 days before your conditional green card’s expiration date. You cannot apply more than 90 days before, and make sure not to apply after your green card expires to maintain your status. If your conditional card expires before you apply to remove the conditions, you risk losing your status as a permanent resident.
If you are filing by yourself:
You can file by yourself under certain categories of eligibility, such as if your marriage ended due to divorce, annulment, your spouse’s death, or if your spouse abused you or your children. You can file at any time after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) provides conditional residence. Keep in mind you will have to fill out a section to apply for a waiver of the joint filing requirement. You will have to prove extreme hardship from the termination of your status and deportation.
If your conditional green card has already expired:
Even if your conditional green card has expired, sometimes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will make an exception and still allow you to file Form I-751. You will write a letter that explains why you didn’t file sooner. There is no guarantee USCIS will accept a late filing. However, your application USCIS may approve your application if "extraordinary circumstances" beyond your control caused the delay.
How to file Form I-751
To file for a removal of conditions on your green card, you must follow three simple steps. First, download and complete Form I-751, then organize your supporting documents and fee, and them mail the package to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Complete Form I-751
You must download and print out Form I-751 to submit it. You can either type up your answers and print out the form afterward, or first print it out and then handwrite your answers in black ink.
Part 1: Information About You
You will provide personal information, including your name and marital status, here. You also have to provide your Alien Registration Number and USCIS online number if you have one.
You can find your Alien Registration Number or A-Number on your green card, where it is labeled "USCIS#." Past correspondence with USCIS will also list this number.
If you have used USCIS online services in the past, you can log in and find your account number on your profile page. However, if you don't have one, don't worry. In that case, you don't need to write one down.
Part 2: Biographic Information
Here you will have to share information such as your eye color, height, weight, and ethnicity.
Part 3: Basis for Petition
If you are filing with your spouse, check the correct box under “Joint Filing.”
If you are filing by yourself, you will have to check the appropriate box under “Waiver or Individual Filing Request.” This box should correspond to the reason why you are filing alone.
Parts 4 and 5: Information About Your Spouse and Children
In part 4, you must provide basic information about the green card holder or U.S. citizen spouse.
In part 5, you will have to do the same for your children, if you have any. If not, skip this section.
Part 6: Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities and Impairments
Here, you can explain any disabilities or impairments you might have that require accommodations by U.S. authorities.
Parts 7 and 8: Applicant and Spouse Acknowledgements and Signatures
You and your spouse will verify all the information is correct. You are the “petitioner” and should complete Part 7 and sign the form. Your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse should complete and sign Part 8.
Parts 9 and 10: Interpreter and Preparer Information
Here you will provide information about anyone who helped you fill out the form, if applicable.
Organize supporting documents and the filing fee
Along with your USCIS form, you will include supporting documents. These documents include:
- Copies of the front and back of your current permanent resident card or conditional green card
- If applicable, copies of the front and back of your children's green cards, if you include them on the I-751 petition
- Evidence your marriage was in good faith or bona fide and not to take advantage of immigration laws. This evidence could include documents proving you live together, such as mortgage or lease documents, utility bills, evidence of shared assets or liabilities, joint bank accounts, joint tax returns, birth certificates of children from your marriage, voided checks showing the same address, or even family photos and affidavits from friends
- If applicable, evidence to back up your reason to not file jointly. This evidence could include your spouse’s death certificate, a finalized divorce decree, or documentation showing you or your children faced extreme cruelty from your spouse
- If applicable, details of any criminal convictions or charges brought against you since you gained conditional resident status
- If you are filing while abroad due to military or government service, you should include two passport-style photographs, completed Form FD-258 fingerprint cards, and a copy of your current military or government orders. Also, make sure to write “Active Military” or “Government Orders” on top of your I-1751 form
After you compile the appropriate documentation, you will have to pay a filing fee of $595. There will also be a biometrics fee of $85 per person, including yourself and your children. You can request a fee waiver based on your household income or financial hardship.
You can pay this fee via money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. If you are filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you can pay via credit card through Form G-1450.
Mail your Form I-751 application to USCIS
After completing your form, you will mail it to USCIS. The location you send to will depend on what mail carrier you use, so consult the USCIS website.
What happens after you file Form I-751?
After you file Form I-751, you will receive a notice that confirms that U.S. Citizenship and immigration Service (USCIS) received it. This receipt is called Form I-757. You can extend your green card's validity for up to 18 months by presenting both your conditional green card and Form I-797 when you need to prove your residence.
Processing times for the form change all the time. Depending on the service center and form type, the wait times listed on the USCIS website will differ. You may have to wait more than three years, which could extend beyond your extension date listed on Form I-757. However, don't worry because your green card will remain valid until USCIS decides on your I-751 petition.
You can check your application status at any time here by entering your application number, email, and name. You should select your "case type" as "I-751 Remove Conditions" after logging in. If you are concerned USCIS is taking too long, you can check USCIS processing times. After entering your information, scroll to the bottom. If you see that your receipt date was after the "Receipt date for a case inquiry" listed, you can submit a service request.
If USCIS approves your application, you will receive a notice and a new 10-year green card in the mail.
Filing Form I-751 can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your green card case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!