January 12, 2015 Douglas Lightman

I-751 Petition:  It’s never too early to start preparing

Now that you have a two year green card, start preparing for your Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence with these easy steps.

If you have been married for less than 2 years at the time you are approved for a green card that was obtained through marriage to a US citizen, the green card you receive is known as a “conditional green card” and is only valid for 2 years.

At the end of that two year period, you and your spouse will be required to file a petition to “remove the conditions,” effectively converting the green card from a 2-year card to a 10-year card. The filing window opens 90 days prior to the expiration of the conditional green card and ends on the expiration date.

The purpose behind this additional filing requirement is to give the USCIS a second chance to evaluate the marriage and examine it for evidence of fraud.

While you cannot submit the application more than 90 days in advance of the expiration of the conditional green card (there’s an exception if there’s been a divorce), taking steps now to facilitate your application down the road will save you time and headache. These steps have to do with providing “bona fides” (evidence) of your marriage.

The “bona fides” of your marriage are any documents that establish that the marriage is valid, such as:

  • Documentation showing joint ownership of property, such as a residential property or an automobile.
  • A joint lease showing a common residence.
  • Joint federal and state tax returns for all years that you have filed joint tax returns. It is strongly preferred, if you filed joint tax returns, to provide IRS Tax Return Transcripts for all years you filed jointly.
  • Utility bills showing a common residence. Provide several months of bills.
  • Joint insurance, including health, homeowners, pet, life, auto.
  • Joint bank accounts and/or credit card accounts. If possible, provide statements from the date you were approved for a 2-year green card through the present date.
  • Birth certificate(s) of any child(ren).
  • Bills or other mailings (utility, credit card, cable, bank statement, etc.) evidencing that you reside at the same address.
  • Documentation from your wedding, such as photos, invitations, congratulatory correspondence, thank you cards, scrapbooks, etc.
  • Photos taken throughout the history of your relationship. If possible, the photos should include some of the following: photos from holidays spent together; photos from trips taken together; photos showing the couple embracing or romantic photos; photos from the wedding; and photos with each other’s family members (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.). The suggested number of photos is at least 20-30.
  • Engagement ring receipt or documentation, if applicable.
  • Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by third parties having personal knowledge of the bona fides of the marital relationship. Each affidavit must contain the full name and address, date and place of birth of the person making the affidavit, his or her relationship to the petitioner or beneficiary, if any, and complete information and details explaining how the person acquired his/her knowledge of your marriage
  • Documentation evidencing trips taken together, such as common flight itineraries and passport stamps.
  • Copies of cards/correspondence from birthdays, holidays, or other special events from family, friends or each other.
  • Any other relevant documentation to establish that there is an ongoing marital union. This can include evidence of pet ownership, written correspondence between the two of you if you have spent time apart, documentation showing a gym membership or cell phone account.

If it is determined after applying to remove the conditions of your green card that your marriage was entered into lawfully, your conditional green card will be converted into a 10-year green card. It is highly important to discuss your case with your immigration lawyer prior to applying to remove the conditional nature of your green card, as certain factors can complicate your case.

For more information on the I-751 Petition, contact Lightman Law Firm at (212) 643-0985 or submit a consultation request online. Also visit our green card marriage and conditional green card sections for more information.

Lightman Law Firm was recently honored as New York’s 2014 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by Acquisition International. Additionally, founding attorney, Douglas Lightman, was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.com. Lightman Law Firm also carries a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews.

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Douglas Lightman

The award-winning Lightman Law Firm was founded by Douglas M. Lightman, Esq. Mr. Lightman has extensive experience in immigration law and international matters through both work and personal experience.Prior to forming Lightman Law Firm, Mr. Lightman spent several years at an international tax consulting and compliance firm where he focused on international tax consulting and cross border transactions. Mr. Lightman is a United States trained lawyer who received his law degree from Brooklyn Law School and is a member in good standing of the Bar of the State of New York and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the world's largest organization of immigration lawyers.To discuss your possible case with Mr. Lightman or another immigration lawyer from Lightman Law Firm LLC, call (212) 643-0985 or fill out the consultation request form on your right. A representative of our firm will contact you shortly upon review of your request.