The majority of green cards are effective for 10 years. After that time, they can be renewed and there is no limit on the amount of times you can renew your green card. However, if you became a permanent resident through marriage, you may have been given a conditional green card. Conditional green cards are valid for just two years but you can apply for a permanent green card. To do this, you must file a Form I-751, known as the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.
By filing Form I-751, you can convert your conditional green card that is valid for two years to a full green card valid for 10 years. Conditional green cards are issued to people who have been married to a green card holder or U.S. citizen for fewer than two years. The USCIS requires you to file Form I-751 to confirm that the marriage is a legitimate one and that you did not enter into it for the sole purpose of acquiring a green card.
Many people worry that they will be denied a green card if their marriage has ended since acquiring the conditional green card. This is not always the case. If you can provide a reasonable explanation as well as evidence to prove your marriage was legitimate, you can still apply for a green card.
If you were issued a conditional green card, you must file Form I-751 as your second wedding anniversary approaches. You must file the form before your anniversary and not after. To determine if you need to file, check your green card. You have a conditional green card if the letters “CR1” appear under the “Category” heading. Checking the expiration date to determine if it is valid for two or 10 years is another way to determine if you need to file Form I-751.
If you have a conditional green card, you must file Form I-751 together with your spouse. In cases when this is not possible, such as if you have divorced or your spouse has passed away, you can ask for the joint filing requirement to be waived and file individually.
You can download Form I-751 onto your computer or other device. Once downloaded, you can print it off and fill in the required information or you can type it in and then print out the form. It is critical that you fully complete the form and provide all requested information. If you live in Illinois, you can then mail your form to the USCIS Elgin Lockbox, which address can be found on the USCIS website.
It is important that you file Form I-751 so you do not lose permanent resident status. Like all immigration matters, though, the process can be complex and must be done right. At Sverdloff Law Group, our Chicago immigration lawyer can help with yours so your status is not placed at risk. Call us now at 312-238-9090 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.