What is Form I-751?
USCIS Form I-751 is also known as the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Individuals who gain permanent resident status as a result of marrying a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident actually gain only conditional permanent resident status. Initially, the immigrant spouse’s permanent resident status is limited to two years. If the marriage is a valid one and the spouse with conditional permanent resident status wishes to remain in the United States lawfully, they must file USCIS Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Petitioners must submit Form I-751 within the 90-day time frame before their Green Card expiration date.
Who needs to submit Form I-751?
Form I-751 is how individuals who gained a 2-year conditional Green Card as a result of marriage may petition for full permanent resident status. This often includes not only the immigrant spouse but also any dependent children. Children who obtained their conditional status on the same day or within 90 days of their parent may be included on the parent’s petition. Children who gained a conditional Green Card after that time frame must file individual I-751s.
While most Form I-751s are filed jointly by the married couple, certain conditions do allow a spouse with conditional permanent resident status to file to remove conditions on an individual basis. These conditions include the death of a spouse, divorce, annulment, abuse, cruelty and other hardships. Individuals with conditional status who qualify may file Form I-751 at any time as long as they are still in the United States.
What if a couple fails to file Form I-751?
Instructions for Form I-751 state that petitioners must submit their package with supporting evidence and fees within the 90-day time frame before their conditional 2-year Green Card expires. The form’s instructions also clearly state that individuals who fail to file Form I-751 on time “will automatically lose” permanent resident status two years from the date when conditional status was granted. This means that individuals who fail to file are no longer in the United States lawfully and are “removable from the United States.”
Can Form I-751 be submitted late?
USCIS does allow petitioners who miss the 90-day time frame to submit a Form I-751 package to request the removal of conditional status. However, late submissions require a written document, or letter, to
- explain why the petition is outside of the normal time frame;
- if needed, provide corroborating evidence of the cause for the delay; and
- request that USCIS excuse the delay and process the petition.
In addition, the letter must demonstrate that
- the petitioners were not the cause of the delay,
- the delay was the result of uncontrollable circumstances and
- the length of the delay was reasonable.
If the USCIS review process finds that the written explanation establishes a “good cause for the late filing,” the Form I-751 package can then be accepted for processing and adjudicated.
What are acceptable reasons for failing to submit Form I-751 on time?
According to USCIS policy, acceptable reasons for failing to submit Form I-751 on time may include
- a long-term illness,
- the death of a family member,
- legal or financial problems,
- the need to provide care to someone,
- a serious family emergency,
- a work commitment or
- a family member on U.S. military active duty.
Sometimes, USCIS will request further explanation, evidence, a response or interview. Failing to respond to these Requests for Evidence, or RFEs can result in USCIS denying the petition.