I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence

I-751 Removal of Conditions Joint Filing and Waivers

If you were granted conditional residence (2-year green card) based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR), you must file USCIS Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence proving that you entered your marriage in good faith, and not to gain an immigration benefit. Filing of the I-751 petition allows you to receive your 10 year permanent resident card. Conditional residents who are still married to the same spouse, through which they gained conditional residence, must file the I-751 petition jointly with their spouse. If your marriage has ended in divorce, the death of your spouse, annulment, or other factors as described below, you can request an I-751 waiver of the joint filing requirement. Although, the burden of proof lies on the conditional resident for I-751 waivers, the criteria of establishing that the marriage was bona fide and entered in good faith remains the same regardless of whether you are filing the petition jointly with your spouse or solo. The conditional resident should be prepared to provide documented evidence of good faith marriage.

Waiver of the Joint Filing Requirement

The conditional resident can request a waiver of the joint filing requirement IF any of the following applies:

  1. You entered the marriage in good faith but your spouse died during the marriage;
  2. You entered the marriage in good faith , but the marriage was later terminated through divorce or annulment;
  3. You entered the marriage in good faith , but were battered or the victim of extreme cruelty by the spouse with whom you gained conditional residence;
  4. Your conditional resident parent entered the marriage in good faith , but you have been battered or the victim of extreme cruelty by your conditional resident parent or their spouse;
  5. The termination of your conditional resident status and removal would result in extreme hardship ;

Note: If you are in the middle of filing for divorce or annulment you can still submit your I-751 waiver application.

Dependents

If your dependent child-ren acquired conditional resident status at the same time as you, or within 90 days that you acquired conditional residence, you can request your child’s removal of conditions along with your I-751 petition.

When to File

Filing Jointly:

If you are filing the I-751 petition jointly with your spouse, you must file the application during the 90 day period immediately before your conditional residence expires.

Waiver of the Joint Filing Requirement:

If you are seeking a waiver of the joint filing requirement, you must file the application any time after you receive conditional resident status and before your removal.

Failure to file:

If you fail to file your petition during the above time frames, you will lose your conditional resident status on the second anniversary of the date you received your conditional residence and be subject to removal proceedings.

Preliminary Supporting Documents

Beneficiary's Biographical Documents

  • Copy of the conditional resident’s green card front and back (color copies preferred);
  • Copy of the conditional resident and USC spouse’s marriage certificate (if filing jointly);
  • Copy of all previous divorce judgments for applicant and former spouse (if applicable);
  • Copy of the conditional resident’s birth certificate with certified English translation;
  • Copies of the child(ren)’s birth certificate(s) born to the marriage (if applicable);
  • Proof of the USC spouse’s citizenship: such as copy of the spouse’s birth certificate, U.S. passport, or certificate of naturalization (if filing jointly);

If you are seeking an I-751 waiver of the joint filing requirement, the former spouse’s proof of citizenship is not necessary;

Detailed Statement

If filing jointly , the conditional resident and their spouse must write a detailed statement describing how they met, how the relationship unfolded, how the couple came to the decision to get married (common interests, characteristics, morals, values, etc.), how the relationship has flourished within the past two years (since gaining conditional residence), and what the couple’s plans are for the future, and any other pertinent information to establish good faith marriage. If the couple has children born to the marriage they should be sure to include this fact in the personal statement.

If the conditional resident is seeking a waiver of the joint filing requirement they must explain the same things, however in addition they must explain the reasons why the marriage irretrievably broke down such as what caused the breakdown, the emotional/psychological impact it has had on their life, the hardships they have faced, and their individual plans for the future.

The conditional resident can corroborate any details provided in their statement by supplementing the statement with documented evidence to strengthen the application such as: evidence of the former spouse’s poor moral character/bad decision making (police reports, evidence of incarceration, evictions, back taxes owed, child support owed, etc.), evidence of infidelity (text messages, emails, affidavits from close friends or witnesses) etc.

It is helpful for the conditional resident to go through a detailed timeline of the relationship. Do not be afraid to explain any events of significance especially if you were battered, a victim of verbal, or physical violence during the marriage. Close friends or witnesses of the mistreatment or violence that occurred during the relationship can also write and notarize an affidavit confirming the claims made in the conditional resident’s personal statement. Additionally, we subject many of our clients to psychological evaluations or polygraph tests in support of the conditional resident’s good faith marriage depending on the client’s unique situation.

Why are Detailed Statements Necessary for I-751 Waivers?

Detailed statements in many ways are the backbone of the I-751 waiver application. Firstly, the immigration officer is able to gain insight into the marriage by reading a first-hand account of what occurred and caused the marriage to end. It also gives the conditional resident an opportunity to provide a detailed narrative behind the relationship explaining the circumstances surrounding the break up. A great personal statement accompanied by a wealth of documented evidence in support of the conditional resident’s good faith marriage will guarantee a favorable decision. When it comes to filing the I-751 waiver, the key word to consider here is good faith. In order to successfully request a waiver of the joint filing requirement, the conditional resident, will need to prove to USCIS that they entered their marriage in good faith and not for the purposes of obtaining immigration benefits, even though their marriage has now ended in divorce, annulment, or other factors. What is being proven, in other words, is the intent that the conditional resident had in entering the marriage. The following documents can be submitted in support of your good faith marriage proving that a bona fide marriage indeed existed.

Supporting Documents to Establish Good Faith Marriage

The following is a list of some documents that should be included in the I-751 petition. The list is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your application should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case.

In order to establish good faith marriage, waiver applicants should provide copies of supporting documents from the time they were married to the time they separated.

Couples filing jointly should provide supporting documents throughout the course of the relationship focusing on the time period after the foreign national gained conditional residence.

Applicants should submit as many documents as possible to establish good faith marriage and any circumstances surrounding the end of the relationship, if the marriage has ended.

Copies of any documents you provide should clearly indicate the names of both the applicant and their spouse (or former spouse), clear dates, and the couple’s joint address as proof of cohabitation. The more documents you can provide the better for your case. The more time you can prove that you have known your spouse (or former spouse) and lived in the same home, the greater the outcome of your case.

Evidence of Cohabitation:

  • Every lease agreement of the places where you and your spouse or former spouse lived during your marriage or mortgage contracts showing joint occupancy and/or ownership of your communal residence;

Evidence of Commingled Finances and Joint Responsibility of Assets and Liabilities:

  • Copies of all the joint checking bank statements for the entire time the applicant and petitioner were married--to the date of separation for waiver applicants (also evidence of joint occupancy);
  • Copies of joint federal and state tax returns, wage statements showing the couple’s joint address, joint insurance policies showing the other spouse as the beneficiary, joint loans, proof of joint property ownership (homes, vehicles, etc.);
  • Copies of joint utility bills (water, gas, electric, phone, cable) for the entire time the applicant and petitioner were married--to the date of separation for waiver applicants;
  • Copies of any other joint bills such as medical bills;

Other Supporting Documents:

Please note: The items below do not , on their own, establish that the marriage was entered in good faith, but they can guide USCIS, and indicate that the couple had a consistent relationship and consistent communication with one another on an intimate level. Documented evidence of cohabitation and commingled finances is much more concrete and substantial evidence since it proves that the couple live/d together and are/were jointly responsible for assets and liabilities throughout the marriage.

  • Photographs of the couple together and with family from the date of marriage—to date of separation (for waiver applicants) with descriptions containing the date each photograph was taken, names of each person in the photograph, and location where the photograph was taken;
  • Emails, text messages, chat, or other social media messages that you sent to one another throughout the relationship;
  • Copies of couple’s phone records as proof of continuous communication;
  • Copies of letters or cards (for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays) the couple wrote to one another or that were sent to the couple by friends or relatives;
  • Copies of wedding invitations, souvenirs, engagement ring receipts, wedding venue receipts etc.;
  • Marital counseling receipts;
  • Hotel reservations for trips you made during your marriage;
  • Flight confirmations for any trips you made during your marriage;
  • Copies of tickets for museums, attractions, and other events the couple visited during the marriage;
  • Any other documents you consider relevant to establish that your marriage was not entered into in order to evade the immigration laws of the United States;
  • Notarized affidavits sworn to or affirmed by at least 2 family members or friends who have observed and spent time with the conditional resident and spouse (or former spouse) throughout their marriage, and can attest that the conditional resident entered the marriage in good faith. The affidavit must be detailed and include anecdotes, dates, and frequency with which the affiant spent time with the conditional resident and their spouse (or former spouse). Each original affidavit must be submitted with the I-751 petition and also contain the following information for each person writing an affidavit: his or her full name and address; date and place of birth; relationship to you or your spouse, if any; and full information and complete details explaining how the person acquired his or her knowledge. Affidavits should be supported by other types of evidence listed above;
  • Psychological evaluation or polygraph testing may be considered for conditional residents who were battered or a victim of violence during the marriage but may not be required;

Note: If the affidavit is not notarized, the affiant must provide a copy of their valid government issued photo identification.

Filing Fee:

A personal check, cashier’s check, or money order in the amount of $590.00 made payable to “Department of Homeland Security” must be included with the I-751 Petition for Removal of Conditions.

For more information on the I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence please contact our office.