The I-751 form issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is called the "Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence." If you are currently 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 USCIS to remove the conditions and make you a permanent resident (with a regular green card). If you fail to do so, you could be placed into removal proceedings in immigration court, and ultimately deported.
Filling out Form I-751 isn't too difficult by itself. But it's essential 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 in the United States, as also described below.
Documents You'll Need to Send USCIS With Form I-751
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 and proving your claimed need for it (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 and deported.
If any of your documents are in a foreign language, you must submit a word-for-word, full English translation along with them.
Proving Good Faith Marriage to USCIS
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 residence 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 are the foreign-born spouse, and you have children, copies of their birth certificates (these are an especially strong form of evidence).
- Documents showing the married couple's joint ownership of assets or properties, such as insurance policies, tax returns, checking, savings, and investment accounts, and tax returns.
- Documents showing the married couple's joint debts and liabilities, such as credit card, car loan, and utility bills.
- Apartment leases or home mortgages from places rented or owned as a couple.
- Affidavits from two people who know both the foreign-born and U.S. spouse personally and can affirm that the marriage is bona fide, or the real thing. This needs to be detailed, containing information on who the person is, the person's address, how they know the couple, and how exactly they're able to speak to the marriage being a true one.
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 I-751 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 be eligible to seek a waiver of the joint filing requirement.
In support of your waiver request, submit the following types of additional documents to USCIS with the I-751:
- If applying for a waiver because your U.S. citizen spouse (or parent) is deceased, a copy of the death certificate.
- If applying for a waiver because you (or your parents) have divorced, a copy of the divorce certificate.
- If 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 applying for a waiver because your removal from the United States would result in your 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, and how it's particularly related to factors that arose during the last two years.
- If you are a child filing this application separately from your parent, a full explanation and documentation of the reason for doing this independently.
Additional Documents for Applicants Living Outside the U.S.
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 style) of yourself (the applicant) and your family dependents.
- Two completed Form FD-258 fingerprint cards for the applicant or any dependents on the same application if any 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.
Getting Legal Help
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 good 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.