Removal of Conditions
for Spouses of U.S. Citizens
Newly married couples seeking permanent residency in the United States are initially granted conditional permanent residency. Two years after obtaining conditional permanent residency, the couple must petition to have the conditions removed. Once approved, the foreign national will obtain unconditional permanent residency.
Conditional permanent residents who are no longer in a viable marriage must also apply to have their conditions removed. However, the procedure for removing the conditions will differ from the normal joint petition.
Failure to follow the proper procedure may have adverse consequences, including the foreign national being placed in removal proceedings. It is highly recommended that you contact an experienced immigration attorney to assist you with either a joint or waiver petition.
I-751 Joint Petition
Within the ninety days immediately preceding the two-year mark of the foreign national obtaining conditional permanent residency, a couple must submit a joint petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The USCIS will process the petition and will require the couple to attend an appointment at the local USCIS field office. At the meeting a couple must demonstrate that they have a bona fide marriage. Both spouses are required to attend.
I-751 Waiver Petition
In certain circumstances a foreign national spouse can apply for a waiver to the I-751 joint petition. A waiver can be obtained if a foreign national:
- would suffer hardship if removed from the country,
- entered the marriage in good faith, but the marriage has terminated, or
- has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty.
After the waiver is submitted to USCIS, the immigration agency will either approve the petition or request that the conditional permanent resident attend an appointment at the local USCIS field office.
After Obtaining Unconditional Permanent Residency
If otherwise eligible, a foreign national spouse can obtain U.S. citizenship three years after obtaining conditional permanent residency. A foreign national who is no longer married to a U.S. citizen must wait five years to obtain citizenship.
I-751 Removal of Conditions
Frequently Asked Questions
What is conditional permanent residency?
Conditional permanent residency is the status given to certain newly married spouses of U.S. citizens. It is called “conditional” because the status can be revoked if a foreign national fails to follow the requirements or if the foreign national fails to file for the removal of the conditions at the appropriate time.
Who is required to have conditional permanent resident?
A spouse of a U.S. citizen is granted conditional permanent residency when he or she obtains permanent residency into the United States within the first two years of the marriage.
What is “Removal of Conditions”? What is the I-751 Form?
The I-751 form is the document that a foreign national must submit to the immigration agency to change from a conditional permanent resident to a permanent resident. “Removal of conditions” refers to the transformation from conditional permanent resident to permanent resident.
Why does the government require spouses to only have conditional permanent residency?
The U.S. government requires conditional permanent residency for newly married foreign nationals because it believes it is the best way to combat immigration marriage fraud.
When is a conditional permanent resident required to file a I-751 Removal of Conditions Form?
In a typical marriage, a conditional permanent resident is required to file a I-751 form during the ninety days leading up to the two year anniversary of the foreign national obtaining conditional permanent residency. In certain circumstances, a conditional permanent resident may be able to file the I-751 form before the two year anniversary.
What happens if a conditional permanent resident does not file an I-751 Form?
If a conditional permanent resident does not file for the removal of conditions at the appropriate time, the conditional permanent resident may face removal from the United States.
Is there an I-751 interview?
Yes, if a conditional permanent resident files an I-751 form jointly with his or her spouse, they will be required to attend an interview similar to the interview that occurred when the spouse sought permanent residency.
What if my spouse refuses to sign the I-751 form? What if my spouse refuses to attend the interview?
In certain situations, a U.S. citizen spouse may refuse to file a joint I-751 form or attend the removal of conditions interview. In such circumstances, it may be possible for a conditional permanent resident to file a waiver to the joint petition I-751 form. Due to the complicated nature of a removal of conditions waiver, it is highly suggested that the assistance of an attorney be sought before filing.
What if a conditional permanent resident is divorced?
If a divorce occurs within the conditional permanent residency period, the foreign national spouse is eligible to apply for a waiver to the joint I-751 form. However, it is highly suggested that an immigration attorney is consulted before a waiver is sought.
Does time spent as a conditional permanent resident count towards the permanent residency needed for naturalization?