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It's Major When a Newlywed Changes From "Conditional" To "Permanent" Resident

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

When a recently married U.S. citizen petitions for a foreigner spouse to immigrate to the U.S., a 2-year Lawful Permanent Resident card (a/k/a "Green Card") is issued and the type of permanent residence granted is "Conditional". Before the card expires, the foreigner must file an "I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence". A timely filed application is essential. Late applications must include a good excuse for the late filing. If an I-751 application is denied, USCIS will promptly commence removal proceedings (i.e. deportation) by issuing a "Notice to Appear" (the "charging" document in Immigration Court). (This usually causes applicants to lose their composures in a heartbeat). While many I-751 applications are approved without more than one "Request for Evidence" from USCIS, some conditional residents are randomly summoned for in-person interviews, even when lawyers properly document the case with clear and convincing evidence to show that the marriage was bona fide from its inception. (My law firm has occasionally had clients who were summoned for interviews despite having submitted a properly documented application, sometimes even showing offspring born of the marriage). The processing time is long, several years, and there is a lot that can go wrong during that time, especially if an interview is specifically requested by USCIS. There are follow ups to be made and interviews to be rescheduled. There is also the question of timing the submission of a U.S. citizenship application. Many law firms will not offer to render services unless they submitted the original application on your behalf, and those who offer to undertake representation midway through the process will charge you a premium to do so. An applicant should strongly consider retaining a lawyer from the beginning, despite anecdotes from people who filed on their own and were approved. Every case is different. Without knowing immigration law, you can't properly conclude that your application will be smooth sailing just because your friend encountered no issues. Photo by Brandon Zacharias on Unsplash

A woman overlooking a mountain

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