In a past article, we had advised that if you apply for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR), you will receive a “conditional green card” if your marriage is less than two years old on the day your green card is approved. A conditional green card is valid for only two years. Your status is conditional to ensure that your marriage is valid and you did not enter into the marriage merely to obtain U.S. permanent residency.
We had further advised that to remove these conditions and obtain permanent residency, you and your spouse must jointly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, prior to expiration of your conditional residency. We discussed that if you are no longer married to your petitioning USC or LPR spouse, or your spouse is refusing to file a joint petition, you may file your I-751 petition on you own, and request a waiver of the joint filing requirement.
Upon receipt of your I-751 Petition, USCIS mails you a receipt notice, extending your conditional status for a period of time past the expiration date on your conditional green card. This receipt notice together with your expired green card serves as proof of your continued status while your I-751 petition is pending.
As a result of USCIS increased processing times over the past year, many individuals with pending I-751 petitions were left with expired extension notices. In effect, they were left without evidence of continued legal status to obtain employment, travel abroad, renew their driver’s licenses, and/or to conduct many other pertinent activities.
To remedy this serious problem, as of September 4, 2021, USCIS increased the time that I-751 receipt notices can be used to show evidence of status from 18 months to 24 months. Moreover, USCIS will issue new receipt notices providing a 24-month extension to individuals who had filed prior to September 4, 2021, and whose cases are still pending.