Due to delays in the processing of the I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, the USCIS has changed the duration of the extension period associated with the receipt notice issued in connection with these filings from 12 months to 18 months. As a result, when a conditional permanent resident files an I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, their conditional residence status is now extended for 18 months from the expiration of their conditional green card, rather than 12 months.
The receipt/extension notice extends a conditional permanent resident’s conditional permanent residency after the expiration of their green card while their I-751 petition is pending. During the extension period, the conditional permanent resident has all the rights of any other permanent resident, such as the ability to work in the U.S. and travel internationally, even though their green card is expired. If a conditional permanent resident needs to travel internationally or work in the U.S., they would present their expired green card and receipt/extension notice.
The USCIS has been issuing 18-month extension notices since June 11, 2018. The USCIS has also re-issued receipt notices with the 18-month extension period for I-751 petitions that were pending as of June 11, 2018. That means that those with a pending I-751 petition as of June 11, 2018, would have both a 12-month extension notice and an 18-month extension notice. Only the 18-month extension notice should be used going forward.
The 18-month extension change has been brought on by longer processing times associated with the adjudication of the I-751 petition by the USCIS. At the present moment, the USCIS is taking anywhere from 13 to 18+ months to adjudicate and issue a decision on an I-751 petition after it’s submitted, compared to the 10-12 month processing time in years past.
With the USCIS frequently not adjudicating petitions within the previous 12-month extension period, many conditional permanent residents were turning to their local USCIS field offices to obtain evidence of their continued conditional permanent residency status by way of an I-551 passport stamp. Securing these stamps can be a bit of a bureaucratic and unpredictable process as one must first make an online InfoPass appointment with their local field office, which are often difficult to secure. After making the appointment, the individual then has to visit the office and effectively communicate the situation with an immigration officer, which can be an anxiety provoking situation.
The 18-month extension is a welcome update on the part of the USCIS as it will relieve stress on conditional permanent residents with pending I-751 petitions and it will ease the burden of field offices who were dealing with a larger than usual influx of individuals applying for I-551 stamps.