Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares a recent update from USCIS regarding a new policy that will extend evidence of status for green card holders who are applying to remove the conditions on their green card with the filing of either Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence or Form I-829 Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. Jacob also provides some cautionary information for conditional permanent residents who have divorced and are returning to the U.S. after temporary foreign travel, as well as added scrutiny for those applying for naturalization who initially gained their green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen.
Keep on watching to find out more.
2 Year Extension of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents with Pending Form I-751 or Form I-829
USCIS has recently shared important information for conditional permanent residents who have been issued a two-year green card by USCIS and are now seeking to remove the conditions on their residence. Starting September 4, 2021, USCIS is extending the time that receipt notices can be used to show evidence of lawful status from 18 months to 24 months for those who have properly filed Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence or Form I-829 Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.
Previously, after filing Form I-751 or Form I-829, USCIS was issuing receipt notices which included an automatic 18-month extension of lawful status, allowing applicants to lawfully remain in the United States 18-months past the expiration of their green cards while their applications were under review with the agency. These extensions were issued for 18-months because that was the estimated processing time for removal of conditions applications prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
USCIS will now be issuing 24-month extensions to reflect the current processing times more accurately for these applications, which has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only those conditional permanent residents who have properly filed Form I-751 or Form I-829 will receive a receipt notice that can be presented along with their Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card), as evidence of continued status for up to 24 months past the expiration date on their Green Card, while their case remains pending with USCIS.
What about applicants who filed their applications before September 4th?
USCIS will also be issuing updated receipt notices to eligible conditional permanent residents who properly filed their Form I-751 or Form I-829 before September 4 and whose cases are still pending. Those receipt notices will also serve as evidence of continued status for 24 months past the expiration date on the applicant’s Green Card.
We applaud this decision by USCIS to help facilitate extended proof of lawful status for conditional residents. This move will make it easier for conditional residents to engage in temporary travel and provide proof of lawful status for employment purposes.
Important Note: Conditional permanent residents who plan to stay outside of the United States for a year or more must apply for a reentry permit on Form I-131 with USCIS before leaving the United States.
Warning for Divorced Conditional Residents Returning After Foreign Travel
We would like to alert I-751 waiver applicants of new scrutiny that may apply to conditional permanent residents who initially received their green card based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen but are now divorced. Such individuals are now being questioned and taken to secondary inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon re-entering the United States after temporary foreign travel using the 18/24-month extension of lawful status and expired green card.
Specifically, upon returning from temporary foreign travel, conditional permanent residents have been taken to secondary inspection at the ports of entry in Chicago, Newark, and Los Angeles International Airport, and asked about the bona fide nature of their relationship including questions relating to cohabitation.
This has been occurring to verify whether applicants who are filing I-751 removal of conditions applications are doing so while they are still eligible. Divorced conditional permanent residents should be aware that they can still file to remove their conditions on permanent residence, however they must seek a “waiver” of the joint filing requirement on Form I-751 and provide supporting documentation to demonstrate that the marriage was entered in good faith, and not for the purposes of obtaining a green card. Conditional residents who are separated or divorced should never under any circumstances submit a “joint” filing. Doing so could cause serious problems such as rescission of a green card and/or bar based on fraud or misrepresentation, if USCIS or a CBP official discovers the misrepresentation on your application.
If you have any doubts about how you should file your I-751 removal of conditions application, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney before submitting your application.
Naturalization Applicants Questioned about Marriage to U.S. Citizen at Interview
We would also like to inform our readers that even those applicants who are filing an N-400 Application for Naturalization, which is not based on their marriage to a U.S. Citizen, are still being questioned about their marriage even where the marriage ended years ago. Recently, one of our clients encountered this situation at the N-400 naturalization interview. The client first obtained their green card based on their marriage to a U.S. Citizen and unfortunately the marriage broke down years later. The USCIS official questioned our client extensively at the naturalization interview about his marriage, including questions about how he met his spouse, where they lived, and other such questions relating to the marriage. When he was unable to provide adequate answers to these questions, his application was denied.
This experience should serve as a warning to all applicants. You must ensure that you are prepared to answer questions about your marriage and be ready to discuss details to the satisfaction of the USCIS officer to prove that your marriage was entered in good faith despite the marriage breaking down years later. Applicants should carefully review their original green card application, and familiarize themselves with their responses and the documentation provided in support of their good faith marriage.
Need help with your immigration case? We hope that this information was helpful. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
- USCIS Extends Evidence of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents to 24 Months
- USCIS Processing Times
- Form I-751
- Youtube channel
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