Conditional Permanent Residency & Removal of Conditions
Some immigrants initially receive a grant of legal permanent residency on a conditional basis. If permanent residency was received on the basis of a marriage that was less than two years old at the time of the grant of permanent residency, then the permanent residency will be conditional. Conditional permanent residents must file a Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence, within 90 days of the expiration of their conditional permanent residency. The laws regarding conditional residence were created to combat marriage fraud, so the process of removing the conditions on residency involves showing USCIS that a marriage was not entered into solely for the purpose of receiving permanent residency.
It is important to file a Form I-751 so that it is received by USCIS in the 90 day period prior to the conditional permanent residency expiring. A petition filed too early will be rejected. The USCIS adjudicator reviewing the petition to remove conditions on residency will look for documentary evidence that the marriage is valid. Examples of convincing evidence may include: proof of joint ownership of personal property; evidence of jointly owned real estate or a lease showing that the couple lives together; proof of commingled finances, for example, bank accounts, credit card accounts, utilities; birth certificates of children born to the couple; affidavits of third parties; jointly filed tax returns; and more. A USCIS interview on the petition to remove the conditions on permanent residency is generally required.
An individual that received permanent residency on the basis of a marriage to a United States citizen spouse is required to file the petition to remove conditions jointly with his or her spouse. However, if the parties cannot file jointly, such as where a couple has divorced, the conditional permanent resident may request a waiver of the joint filing requirement. To receive a waiver of the joint filing requirement, it must be shown that: extreme hardship to the foreign national would result if he or she were removed; the marriage was entered into in good faith but terminated other than through the death of a spouse; or the foreign national spouse was battered or subject to extreme cruelty.
It will generally take USCIS five months or more to decide on a petition to remove conditions on permanent residency. If a petition to remove conditions on permanent residency is approved, the foreign national will receive a permanent resident card valid for ten years. The permanent resident may be eligible to naturalize in three or fewer years after the conditions on permanent residency are removed. Our firm can consult with you regarding a petition to remove conditions on permanent residency. We can also provide representation throughout the entire filing process, including assistance with requests to waive the joint filing requirement, and appearance at USCIS interviews.
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