Form I-751: Make Your Conditional Green Card Permanent in Arizona
There can be many abuses and dishonesty with marriage-based immigration, which is why USCIS issues a conditional green card if spouses were just married when applying. Officials want to know that the relationship is genuine and that the parties did not simply marry for immigration purposes.
As a result, USCIS will intensely scrutinize Form I-751. You must submit a well-prepared petition supported by extensive evidence to convince officials that everything about your marriage is legitimate. Considering the complexities, you should make it a priority to retain an Arizona immigration petition lawyer for assistance with documentation. It is also useful to review answers to frequently asked questions about Form I-751.
What is the purpose of an I-751 petition in Arizona?
Many green card holders are granted LPR status to permanently stay in the US, though they will have to renew every 10 years unless or until filing for citizenship. The exception is someone who received a green card through marriage, and the spouses wed less than 2 years before obtaining status as an LPR.
If this describes your situation, you likely received a conditional green card that is valid for 2 years. You will need to renew it within this timeframe indefinitely unless you upgrade it to a permanent green card. To do so, you file USCIS Form I-751. The petition is for purpose of proving that you have a bona fide marriage and that you did not simply marry someone to get a green card and then walk away. If approved, USCIS removes the conditional nature of your green card and makes it permanent.
Note that the time you are in possession of a conditional green card does count toward the time that you need when applying for US citizenship.
Can I remove the conditions on a residence if the marriage has ended?
Yes, you can still upgrade your conditional green card to permanent if the marriage was terminated by divorce, annulment, or the death of your spouse. The point of USCIS Form I-751 is to confirm that you entered into a legitimate marriage on the wedding day, even if the relationship broke down or ended for other reasons afterward.
How do I know if my green card is conditional in Arizona?
There are two ways to determine whether you have a conditional green card:
- Your marriage to a US citizen or green card holder took place less than 2 years before you were granted status as an LPR.
- The conditional nature of your green card will be printed on it, indicating a “CR-1” in the section labeled “Category.” Plus, your green card has an expiration date, and this will be either 2 or 10 years depending on whether it is conditional or permanent.
When should I file my Form I-751?
Timing is one of the most critical aspects when going through the process to make your conditional green card permanent. There are different windows for filing an I-751 petition, and they vary depending on whether you are filing jointly with your spouse or individually. The USCIS filing calculator for Form I-751 is helpful as a guide, but the basic rules are:
- If you are still married and filing with your spouse as a sponsor, you must submit Form I-751 within 90 days before the expiration date listed on your green card. For instance, if your green card expires on September 30, 2023, you must file by July 1, 2023, to keep your status.
- When the marriage has ended, you will need to petition for the removal of conditions on your own. You can do so anytime after receiving your green card, but before it expires. It is also possible to file Form I-751 individually if you are still married but cannot get your spouse to file jointly, perhaps because of abuse or mistreatment.
It is crucial to submit your forms and documents by the relevant deadline, as filing late could lead to removal.
How do I petition to remove the conditions and get a permanent green card in Arizona?
The information you need to complete Form I-751 is relatively straightforward, knowing that the purpose is to remove conditions by showing that your marriage is legitimate. There are 11 sections within the petition, which request details regarding:
- Your Alien Registration Number, printed on your green card;
- The basis of your petition and marital status;
- Information about your spouse, ex-spouse, and children; and,
- Your sworn statement that all information provided on Form I-751 is true.
What documents and evidence do I need for Form I-751?
The details you fill out may be straightforward, but you will need to back up the information in your petition. It will be necessary to submit paperwork and other evidence as support for your claims that the marriage is bona fide. Any documents that prove you share a life together as a married couple are important, such as:
- Photographs and videos;
- Statements from joint bank accounts, credit cards, and utilities;
- Joint ownership of real estate or being co-signers on a lease;
- Birth certificates of children you share;
- Beneficiary designations and estate planning documents; and,
- Sworn statements and affidavits from loved ones.
If you are filing individually, you must submit additional evidence, including a divorce certificate, annulment decree, or death certificate. Those who are still married but filing individually must provide an explanation of why the sponsor spouse is not joining the petition. It is helpful to have evidence of abuse as support.
How do I submit the petition for a permanent green card?
Unlike some other documents that you might file with USCIS, Form I-751 cannot be completed online. You must print it out, either after filling in the information or as a blank form to complete in writing. In addition, it is necessary to submit your petition to remove conditions by US mail. A green card holder who resides in Arizona must send the form and all supporting documentation to the USCIS Lockbox in Phoenix. There is a filing fee, but it may be possible to obtain a fee waiver due to financial hardship.
What happens after I submit my I-751 petition?
USCIS will send a notice confirming receipt of your paperwork, and you should retain the Form I-797 that serves as your receipt. In the event that you do not get your permanent card before the expiration of your existing green card, the I-797 is proof of your status. Officials will review your Form I-751 and may request additional evidence if necessary.
As part of processing your petition, USCIS will schedule you for a biometrics appointment. During this session, you will provide fingerprints and photos for identification purposes. You will also likely need to attend an interview regarding the information on your I-751 petition. If approved, USCIS will forward a notice, and you will receive your permanent green card with a 10-year expiration date by mail.
What if USCIS denies an I-751 petition?
If USCIS uncovers evidence that you were in a sham marriage, there are grounds for inadmissibility or other problems with your Form I-751, and your petition could be rejected. In such a case, you could receive a Notice to Appear for removal proceedings, which is a deportation hearing before the immigration court. This is because your status has now been terminated, as you will recall that it was conditional at the start.
It may be possible to suspend removal proceedings if you have grounds to file a new, separate Form I-751. While USCIS is reviewing the second petition, the deportation case will not move forward. If USCIS does approve your Form I-751, you can terminate deportation efforts because you will have your permanent green card.
Do I need to hire a lawyer to assist with Form I-751?
There is no requirement to retain legal counsel for filing a petition to remove conditions, but there are many reasons you gain an advantage when you get help from an Arizona immigration attorney. Your lawyer will handle such important tasks as:
- Advising you on eligibility and the petition process;
- Determining proper timing for filing a joint petition by the relevant deadline;
- Assisting when you are filing a Form I-751 as an individual, where you will need to show why you are not filing jointly and supply additional supporting documents;
- Gathering all important documents and proof needed to demonstrate a bona fide marriage;
- Assisting with completing the I-751 petition and submitting it to USCIS;
- Responding to any request for additional evidence;
- Preparing you for your interview with USCIS officials; and,
- Addressing a denial of Form I-751 and what to do next.
Rely on an Arizona Immigration Attorney to Assist with Form I-751
These answers to FAQs about making your conditional green card permanent are helpful, but it is critical to work with a skilled legal counsel for Form I-751. You can trust Diamondback Legal to handle all essential tasks, so please contact our Phoenix office at (602) 755-3199 or via our website. We can set up a consultation with an Arizona immigration petitions lawyer who will explain more about petitions to remove conditions and get a full green card.