Many green cards are good for ten years and are able to be renewed indefinitely. However, if you obtained your green card through your marriage and were married for less than two years when you obtained it, your green card is likely conditional and will expire after two years.
Before those two years are up, you’ll have to file the I-751 Form to receive your 10-year green card.
Related: How Joint Sponsorship Works
What is the I-751 Form?
The I-751 Form, also called Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, is how immigrants can file to switch to a 10-year green card from their conditional, two year marriage-based green card.
For those with a marital green card, this form is necessary to file — their green card is conditional if they’ve been married under two years, and Form I-751 aims to remove those conditions.
Otherwise, their conditional green card would expire after two years.
Form I-751 helps the USCIS determine that your marriage is based on genuine intentions and you didn’t marry a U.S. citizen with the sole intention of gaining a green card.
You can still apply to remove the conditional status on your green card if your marriage ended, but you’ll have to explain to the USCIS why it ended and provide evidence that it was genuine.
Why Would You Need to File an I-751 Form?
If you have a conditional green card, you’ll have to file an I-751 Form and supporting documents 90 days before your two year green card expires. If you married a U.S. citizen or green card holder and it’s been less than two years since you were issued your green card, you likely have conditional resident status.
And if you’re unsure what your status is, you can look at your green card — if you see the code “CR1,” then you have a conditional green card. In addition, the expiration date will be in two years instead of ten years.
Typically, you’ll file Form I-751 alongside your spouse; however, you can file it individually in some circumstances (if you suffered abuse, went through a divorce, or your U.S. citizen spouse died).
Unsure if you need to file an I-751 Form with the USCIS? We can help you determine how and when to file.
When Should You File an I-751 Form?
You must file Form I-751 at the right time to avoid complications and the risk of losing your permanent resident status. But when is the right time to apply?
Well, it depends on whether you file individually or jointly with your spouse.
If you’re still married to your spouse and file the I-751 Form together, you’ll have to file it in the 90-day period before your conditional green card expires.
However, if you’re filing by yourself, you can file Form I-751 any time after receiving your conditional resident status.
General Instructions for Filling Out the I-751 Form
Completing Form I-751 is relatively straightforward. You’ll need to include basic information like:
- Your personal information (name, marital status, etc.)
- Your Alien Registration Number (found on your green card)
- Your USCIS Online Account Number (only if you have one)
- Your physical address
- Your biographic information
- Your basis for petition
- Information about your children and spouse
After printing and filling out Form I-751, you’ll have to mail it to the USCIS — where you send it depends on where you live; you can see where to send yours here.
Additional Documentation Needed for Form I-751
When you send the USCIS your completed Form I-751, you’ll also need to include supporting documentation to ensure you get the best chance for approval.
You should include the following documentation when filing Form I-751:
- A copy of your green card and a copy of any of your children’s green cards if they are included on the form
- Evidence supporting your marriage and showing that you entered it in good faith — for example:
- Lease or mortgage documents
- Proof of shared assets
- Joint tax filings or bank accounts
- Birth certificates of your children
- Mail or checks showing you live at the same address
- Affidavits from family and friends
- Family photographs
- Evidence to show why you are filing individually (only if you are not filing jointly with your spouse — for example:
- A finalized divorce decree
- Proof of domestic abuse
- Your spouse’s death certificate
- Details of any criminal convictions you’ve had since obtaining your green card
If you are filing the I-751 jointly, it is important to include documents showing your marriage is real from the date you received your 2 year green card up to when you are filing the I-751. Many of these documents may be the same ones you initially filed with USCIS, but you want to make sure they are updated to show you have been together as a married couple from the time you got the two year green card to present.
Form I-751 Fees
There are some fees associated with filing Form I-751. You’ll have to pay a filing fee of $595, a biometric fee of $85 for you, and a biometric fee of $85 for every dependent filed on your I-751 Form.
However, you can apply for a fee waiver with the USCIS depending on your household income or if you currently face financial hardships.
You can pay these fees with a credit card through Form G-1450 or with a money order, cashier’s check, or personal check.
What If You File the I-751 Form Late?
In some situations, the USCIS will make exceptions, allowing you to file Form I-751 after your conditional green card expires. To do so, you’ll need to send them a letter highlighting the reasons why you didn’t file sooner.
However, the USCIS will only typically approve these requests if there were extraordinary circumstances outside of your control and the delay was within a reasonable amount of time.
There is no guarantee that the USCIS will accept your Form I-751 if you file late; it’s crucial to do your best to meet your filing deadline.
Did you miss your Form I-751 filing deadline? Reach out today to learn about your options.
After You File the I-751 Form
While the USCIS can take a while to process your I-751 Form, you will receive a notice stating that they received the form soon after filing — this receipt is called Form I-797 and temporarily extends your green card’s validity for 24 months after its expiration date.
Your current green card will stay valid until the USCIS makes a decision on your Form I-751 petition.
You may also have to attend another interview with an official from USCIS before your I-751 is decided. This is case dependent.
Upon approval, you’ll receive your new 10-year green card!
Related: Do You Qualify for VAWA?