An I-751 Form is referred to as a “Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence.” If you currently are a U.S. conditional resident based on either your or your parent’s marriage to a U.S. citizen, your status as a conditional resident lasts only two years. Near the end of these two years, you must use Form I-751 to ask U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to remove the conditions and make you a permanent resident (with a regular green card).
Filling out Form I-751 isn’t too difficult by itself. But it’s important to attach adequate documents to support your Form I-751, as described in this article. Some of these documents are fairly standard, but in other cases, you’ll need to pick and choose which types of documents will best support your claim for permanent residence.
Along with the I-751 Form, you’ll need to submit the following documents to USCIS:
- A copy, front and back, of your Alien Registration Card (otherwise known as a green card).
- Proof of a good faith marriage (described below).
- If you’re requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement, documents supporting your request (described below).
- If you have undergone a legal name change, the court order indicating the change.
- If you have a criminal or drug history, documents explaining what happened – get a lawyer’s help with this, as such acts can easily lead to your being denied a green card.
Note that, if any of your documents are in a foreign language, you must submit an English translation along with them.
Proving Good Faith Marriage
Showing USCIS that your (or your parent’s) marriage is the real thing, and not just a sham to get a green card, is an important part of the application. USCIS is on the lookout for fraudulent marriages – that’s the whole reason the conditional residency system was created in the first place. USCIS recommends putting together a selection of the below documents, covering the two years since you were granted conditional residence:
- If you have children, copies of their birth certificates (these are an especially strong form of evidence).
- Documents showing joint ownership of assets or properties, such as insurance policies, tax returns, checking, savings, and investment accounts, and tax returns.
- Documents showing joint debts and liabilities, such as credit card, car loan, and utility bills.
- Apartment leases or home mortgages from places you have rented or owned as a couple.
- Affidavits from two people who know both you and your spouse personally and can affirm that your marriage is the real thing. (This needs to be detailed, containing information on who the person is, the person’s address, how they know you, and how exactly they’re able to speak to the validity of your marriage.)
If you don’t have many of these, add whatever types of documents you think will best support your case:
Requesting a Waiver of the Joint Filing Requirement
If you are unable to file Form I-751 jointly with your U.S. citizen spouse or parent, due to death, divorce, abuse, or certain other circumstances, you may seek a waiver of the joint filing requirement. In support of your waiver request, you will have to submit the following types of additional documents with the I-751:
- If you are applying for a waiver because your U.S. citizen spouse (or parent) is deceased, a copy of the death certificate.
- If you are applying for a waiver because you (or your parents) have divorced, a copy of the divorce certificate.
- If you are applying for a waiver because you are being battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen spouse or parent , proof of the abuse or cruelty such as a police report, hospital or medical reports, school reports, social worker reports, evidence of entry into a shelter or refuge, affidavits from witnesses, and photographs of injuries.
- If you are applying for a waiver because your removal from the United States would result in you undergoing “extreme hardship,” evidence showing the type of hardship, including why it would be any worse than another immigrant would face after having spent a length of time in the United States.
- If you are a child filing this application separately from your parent, a full explanation and documentation of the reason.
If you are currently located outside of the United States, either as a result of a government or military order, you must also submit the following documents:
- Two photographs (passport size) of yourself (applicant) and your dependents.
- Form FD-258, and fingerprint cards if you or any of your dependents are between the ages of 14 and 79.
People filing Form I-751 within the United States don’t have to worry about these, because they will pay a biometrics fee along with the application, and USCIS will call them in to have the photography and fingerprinting done.
It is a good idea to hire a qualified lawyer when preparing all the documents described above – particularly if you’re applying for a waiver of the joint filing requirement. A lawyer can help simplify the process and make sure all requirements are fulfilled so that your case is not delayed for lack of documents or ultimately denied.