What is Form I-751?
If you have been married for less than 2 years, at the time of issuance of a green card, the permanent resident card issued to the immigrant spouse will be valid for a period of only 2 years.
This temporary green card is called a ‘Conditional resident green card‘.
This also applies to children who have been granted U.S. conditional residency based on their parent’s marriage to a U.S. citizen, or a lawful green card holder.
While reviewing your I-751 application, USCIS will have one more opportunity to determine if the marriage is authentic.
The Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence is an 11-paged USCIS form and consists of 11 sections.
- Part 1: Information About You, the Conditional Resident
- Part 2: Biographic Information
- Part 3: Basis for Petition
- Part 4: Information about the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse
- Part 5: Information about Your Children
- Part 6: Accommodation for Individuals with Disabilities and Impairments
- Part 7: Petitioner’s Statement, Contact Information, Acknowledgment of Appointment at USCIS Application Support Center, Certification, and Signature
- Part 8: Information of Individual or Spouse Listed in Part 4 (if applicable)
- Part 9: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification and Signature
- Part 10: Information of Person Preparing this Petition, if not the Petitioner
- Part 11: Additional Information
- In this guide, we will help you to fill out the Form I-751 step-by-step so that you face no delay in the processing of the form.
When to File Form I-751?
It is essential to file for removal of conditional status before the CR-1 (conditional resident green card) expires, otherwise you will be classified as an undocumented immigrant and be subject to deportation.
Form I-751 must be filed 90 days prior to the expiration of the conditional resident card that was valid for 2 years.
- If you are filing the petition jointly with your spouse, you must file it during the 90-day period, before your conditional green card expires.
- If you are filing the petition on your own, you may file it at any time after you were granted conditional residence.
- In case your conditional green card has already expired, you will have to submit a written explanation and request USCIS to excuse the late filing.
You are also permitted to include your children if they were granted conditional residency within a 90 day period that you received this status.
You can file Form I-751 without your spouse too, under certain special conditions. We have discussed it in detail here.
You can check whether you have conditional residence by looking at your green card’s category.
‘CR1′ under the ‘Category‘ section means that you are a conditional resident.
To determine the exact date your card expires, check the expiration date on your green card.
How to Fill Out Form I-751 (step-by-step instructions)
- You should always use the latest version of any USCIS immigration form to prepare your application, or USCIS will reject it.
- The latest version of Form I-751 can be downloaded here.
- The petition must be properly signed and filed. USCIS will not accept a stamped or typewritten name in place of a signature.
- If you submit a document in a foreign language, you must also submit a full English translation, along with a certification from the translator verifying that the translation is complete and accurate, and that they are competent to translate from the foreign language to English.
- Submit all the necessary evidence and supporting documentation, at the time of filing according to USCIS instructions.
- Submit only legible photocopies of documents requested, unless the instructions specifically state that you must submit an original document.
NOTE: Submit photocopies ONLY.
If you submit original documents when not required or requested by USCIS, your original documents may not be returned to you.
Part 1: Information About You, the Conditional Resident
This section mainly asks for basic personal information, like your name, marital status and other details about you.
Answer all questions fully and accurately.
If a question does not apply to you, type or print “N/A”, unless stated otherwise.
While some items are pretty self explanatory, others are not.
- Item 7, Alien Registration Number: It is an identification number issued by the immigration authorities. You can find this number on your green card, where it’s labelled as “USCIS #”.
- Item 9, USCIS Online Account Number: You will have this number only if you ever created an account online for some immigration-related purpose. It is not the same as the Alien Registration Number. Leave it blank, if you don’t have one.
- Item 12, Place of Marriage: You will enter the name of the city or state where you were married.
Part 2: Biographic Information
In this section, you will need to provide your biographical information.
Choose the option that most accurately describes your race and ethnicity.
USCIS Categories and Definition for:
- Hispanic or Latino: A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
- White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.
- Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
- American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America).
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
Height: Select the values that best match your height in feet and inches.
Weight: Enter your weight in pounds.
Part 3: Basis for Petition
In this section, you need to tell more about the basis on which you are filing the petition.
- Check either of the options “1.a” or “1.b”, if you are filing the petition jointly with your spouse or parent, for your permanent residency.
- Check any of the other options, if you are filing the petition on your own, checking the appropriate box to explain why your spouse will not file with you.
Part 4: Information about the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse
This section requires basic information about the sponsoring spouse, who helped the immigrant obtain the U.S. conditional permanent resident status.
Part 5: Information about Your Children
You can skip this part, if you do not have children.
If you have a child, make sure to check the ‘yes‘ box in Item 5.
Doing so, you would not need to file a separate I-751 for your child.
Part 6: Accommodation for Individuals with Disabilities and Impairments
In this section, you can make USCIS aware of any disabilities or impairments you might have and request an accommodation at your interview.
Examples include but are not limited to:
- If you are deaf or hard of hearing, USCIS may provide you with a sign-language interpreter at an interview or other immigration benefit-related appointment,
- If you are blind or have low vision, USCIS may permit you to take a test orally rather than in writing, or
- If you are unable to travel to a designated USCIS location for an interview, USCIS may visit you at your home or a hospital.
Part 7: Petitioner’s Statement, Contact Information, Acknowledgment of Appointment at USCIS Application Support Centre, Certification, and Signature
You are required to provide your contact information in this section.
This will help USCIS to follow up with you, if required.
- Indicate if an interpreter helped you to complete this petition.
- If applicable, select the box to indicate if someone helped you to prepare this petition for you.
- You must also affirm that you have read and understood the Acknowledgement of Appointment at USCIS Application Support Center.
- Make sure to properly sign and date your petition and provide your contact details and email address (if any).
- A stamped or typewritten name in place of a signature is not acceptable.
Who is the Petitioner in I-751?
The conditional green card holder is the petitioner in Form I-751.
Part 8: Information of Individual or Spouse Listed in Part 4 (if applicable)
In this section, your immigrant spouse, parent or guardian will need to provide their personal information and sign it.
This section is quite similar to the previous section, except it will be signed by the individual listed in the Part 4 (“Information about the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse”) of the petition.
Part 9: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification and Signature
If you have used an interpreter to help you prepare the form, this section must be completed by your interpreter.
The interpreter must also certify that he or she has read the Acknowledgement of Appointment at USCIS Application Support Center in Part 7 to you.
He/she must sign and date the petition.
Part 10: Information of Person Preparing this Petition, if not the Petitioner
This section asks for the information and signature of the person who completed your petition, if not you.
If the person helping you prepare your petition is an attorney or accredited representative, he/she must also submit a completed Form G-28, along with your petition.
Part 11: Additional Information
This section is for any additional information you want to provide.
You can also make copies of this section, for extra space and file it with your petition.
Note: USCIS recommends you to save a copy of your completed petition to review in the future.
Don’t Forget to Sign Your Form!
Remember, USCIS will reject any unsigned form.
Form I-751 Checklist of Documents (How to Assemble I-751 Package)
You must submit certain supporting documents, along with the Form I-751.
- A copy of your current green card (front and back).
- Copies of the green cards (front and back) of children included in your Form I-751 (if any).
- Evidence of a happy and good faith marriage.
- Evidence of your marital relationship gathered in the last two years. These documents include copies of leases or mortgages in both your names, copies of joint bank, or joint tax filings, credit card and utility statements or bills, copies of children’s birth certificates, or even family photographs and sworn affidavits from friends.
- A court order indicating the name change, if you have got your name changed after marriage.
- If you have ever been arrested, charged with a crime, or convicted, then you are required to provide copies of dispositions.
- If you do not file your petition jointly, then you must submit evidence supporting your request. This could include your spouse’s death certificate; a finalized divorce decree; or official documentation showing that you or your children suffered domestic abuse. You must also provide enough evidence showing your marriage was “bona fide” (entered in good faith).
- If you are filing your petition overseas due to military or government service, include 2 passport-style photographs, completed Form FD-258 fingerprint cards, and a copy of your current military or government orders. You will also need to write “ACTIVE MILITARY” or “GOVERNMENT ORDERS” on the top of your I-751.
How Long Does it Take Form I-751 to Get Approved?
The actual processing time of Form I-751 could vary depending on the number of applications received and the USCIS office that will process your case.
The processing time could also depend on the accuracy of the information that you have provided.
Submitting an incomplete application can result in longer processing time.
You can find detailed information on the complete processing timeline for Form I-751 here.
You can also check the processing time for the field office where you filed your form.
Where to Mail Form I-751?
You must mail your completed and signed petition to one of USCIS offices, depending on the state of your residence.
You can find the corresponding mailing address here.
What happens after filing I-751?
After having completed your Form I-751, you will have to file it with the appropriate USCIS office. You can find the corresponding mailing address here.
After receiving your application, the USCIS will check for its completion.
If you have filed your petition properly, USCIS will mail you a receipt letter.
This receipt letter, formally known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action will extend your conditional residence for an additional 18 months, while USCIS reviews your case.
It is therefore very important to carry the receipt along with your expired conditional green card at all times.
If your Form I-751 has not been properly filed, USCIS may either send you a Notice of Action to reject the petition, or a Request for Evidence, requesting additional documents. This will delay the entire process.
We strongly recommend you to carefully review the I-751 petition and include all the supporting documents with it, to avoid any delays.
The USCIS will then send you a notice for biometrics appointment, to be conducted at your nearest USCIS Application Support Center.
The processing times for Form I-751 change on a regular basis. You can check the current processing time on the USCIS website.
USCIS will inform you about their decision in writing. This decision will be based on determination of whether you have established eligibility for the immigration benefit you seek.
Can I file for citizenship (Form N-400) while I-751 is pending?
Conditional residents with a pending I-751 are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
This means that after filing the I-751 petition and before receiving the permanent green card, if you satisfy all the eligibility requirements for naturalization, you can naturalize as a U.S. citizen.
You can apply for U.S. citizenship by filing Form N-400 with USCIS. You must also include your I-751 receipt, along with a cover letter explaining your basis of application.
Conditional green card holders must also note that they can apply for naturalization after three years of residency in the U.S. and living with their U.S. citizen spouses.
Note that conditional residents, who no longer live with their U.S. citizen spouses, due to divorce, annulment, mistreatment or spouse’s death, who file their Form I-751 individually, will be eligible for citizenship only 5 years after becoming a permanent resident.
The processing time for removal of conditional residence can take up to two years, while the naturalization processing time can take 6-9 months.
This means that you may become a U.S. citizen before receiving a permanent green card.
Can I travel after filing I-751? (Within the U.S. and internationally)
The ability to travel both domestically and internationally is always one of the biggest concerns for individuals with pending immigration cases.
Being a conditional resident and waiting on a pending I-751 for obtaining a permanent green card, you can legally travel internationally, without the risk of your status being abandoned, provided you follow a set of rules.
Before departing, you’ll have to make sure that you are carrying the right documents to re-enter the United States.
Travel Documents Required for Applicants With Pending I-751
While waiting for your permanent green card to arrive, it is necessary for a conditional resident to carry these documents at all times:
- Valid and unexpired passport
- Expired conditional green card
- USCIS I-797C, Notice of Action, confirming the receipt of your I-751 Form
Note: Your I-751 Receipt Notice will likely be the only document confirming your legal immigration status once your conditional green card has expired.
Keep a Track of Biometrics Appointment
After receiving your I-797C receipt from the USCIS, you will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment.
It is recommended not to travel until you have completed this appointment, or have it collected by someone at your address, if it arrives in your absence.
If it arrives while you are travelling, make sure to request USCIS to reschedule the appointment, as your absence in the appointment may lead to abandonment of your application.
How Long Can You Be Away?
It is recommended to not travel outside the U.S. for over 6 months, while your Form I-751 application is pending.
If the I-751 petition is denied while you are abroad, you may not be able to reenter the U.S. and may be referred to an immigration judge for a removal hearing (deportation).
However, if you must leave the U.S. for a significant time, consider obtaining a Re-entry permit.
This will help you to avoid any problems when the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will be admitting you at a port-of-entry, regarding your expired conditional residence.
Generally, you should try to not to travel while your application is pending.
If you nevertheless decide to travel, you must follow all the rules described above.
Does I-751 require an interview?
Since 2005, conditional green card holders didn’t attend an in-person interview for obtaining a permanent green card.
However, after December 2018, this policy changed and now, there are rare scenarios of waived in-person interviews.
This means, most conditional green card holders will have to attend an interview.
USCIS officers may consider waiving the interview only when all of the following are true:
- There is enough evidence to validate and conclude that the marriage is authentic and not conducted for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card.
- All the required supporting documents are intact in the Form I-751, while the complete package indicates neither fraud nor misrepresentation.
- USCIS has already interviewed the conditional permanent resident 2 years earlier, as part of the initial marriage green card application.
Note: If you are scheduled for an I-751 interview, you must attend it.
Failure to do so may result in termination of the conditional resident’s status, leading to deportation proceedings.
What happens if my I-751 is denied?
If after filing the I-751 petition, USCIS denies your application, it will mail you a letter explaining the reason for this denial, along with a Notice to Appear (NTA) in the immigration court, for deportation.
You must attend this hearing, as this will serve as another chance for you to appeal your case.
This means you can convince the judge to grant you permanent residence.
Unfortunately, immigrants do not hold the right to directly appeal the USCIS’s denial of Form I-751.
The most common reasons for the denial of your Form I-751 are:
- Suspicion of a fraudulent marriage
- Insufficient evidence of good faith marriage
- Late submission of I-751 form
- Holding a criminal record
- Absence in the interview
Note that once your Form I-751 is denied, your lawful permanent residency is terminated. This means you will not be allowed to work or travel.
Can I file I-751 before 90 days?
If you are filing your Form I-751 jointly with your U.S. citizen/permanent resident spouse, you must do it during the 90-day period immediately before your conditional green card expires.
On the front side of your conditional green card, you will have two dates, one of them saying ‘Card Expires‘. You must file your form at any time during the 90 days before this date.
If you file your Form I-751 early, USCIS will return your application and you will have to refile it. This might delay your application process, affecting your green card approval timeline.
If you file your Form I-751 after your conditional green card expires, you will lose your resident status and can be deported from the U.S.
However, you may file the Form I-751 individually (without your spouse) petition after the expiration of your conditional green card under special conditions, which may originate due to termination of your marriage:
- as a result of divorce,
- annulment, or
- death of your spouse.
Can I File I-751 By Myself?
The Form I-751 must generally be filed jointly with the sponsoring spouse (U.S. citizen/lawful permanent resident).
However, you can file the petition individually (without the U.S. citizen/permanent resident spouse) at any time after receiving the conditional residence, if you have entered the marriage in good faith but:
- Your spouse subsequently dies,
- Your marriage was later terminated due to divorce or annulment,
- You have been subjected to extreme cruelty by your petitioning spouse,
- You have been subjected to extreme cruelty by U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- The termination of your status and removal from the United States would result in extreme hardship.