If you received your U.S. residency based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, but because of the recency of the marriage you were given conditional, rather than permanent residence (with a two-year expiration date), then you will need to fill out and submit USCIS Form I-751 in order to convert your conditional residency to permanent residency. (See Marriage-Based Conditional Residents: When and How to Apply for a Permanent Green Card for details on the background of who needs to file and why.)
Assuming you are eligible and ready to file the I-751—and you are still married and your U.S. spouse is cooperating with the process—here is how to fill out the form. (If your spouse will not or cannot sign onto the form, see What If Your U.S. Spouse Won't Sign the Joint Petition I-751? for your next options.)
Form I-751 is available on the I-751 page of the USCIS website. This article discusses the version of the form dated 11/23/15, expiring 11/30/2017.
You can fill in Form I-751 on your computer, and that’s the best way to do it. If you need to fill it in by hand, print legibly and use black ink. Signatures must be by hand, in ink—do not type your name or use a stamp where it asks for a signature.
You’ll probably come across a question on the form that doesn’t apply to you. For example, Part 1, Question 13 says “If the marriage through which you gained conditional residence has ended, provide the date it ended”—but you’re still married. In answer boxes like those, type or print N/A (which means “not applicable”). It’s not necessary to do that if the question says “if any”—like when the form asks for your Social Security number or Alien Registration number. If your answer to a question that requires a number is zero (for example, “How many children do you have” or “How many times have you departed the United States”), type or print None, instead of a zero.
The last page of the form (page 11, Part 11) has extra space in which to add information that won’t fit in the space provided elsewhere on the form. If you need even more space, write or type the information on a separate piece of paper and attach it to the end of the form.
On every extra sheet, type or print your name and Alien Registration number (if you have one) at the top. Indicate the I-751 page number, part number, and item number to which the information refers. Sign and date each extra page at the bottom.
Part 1, “Information About You, the Conditional Resident”: Question 9 wants to know if you have an ELIS account number. This is NOT your Alien Registration number. It’s a number you were given if you ever filed an application, petition, or request using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS).
When Question 12 asks for your “place” of marriage, it means the city, state (if in the U.S.), and country (if outside the U.S.)—not the type of building or other location.
You can find the answer to Question 14 (when your conditional residence expires) on your green card. It’s two years after you got your permanent residence.
For question 18, you will probably know if you are in “removal or deportation proceedings.” You would be in this situation if you had been convicted of a crime, given USCIS reason to believe that your marriage is fraudulent, or done something else to make you deportable. If you are in immigration court proceedings, you should already have a lawyer, who should help you with this petition as well.
If you check “yes” to Question 19 about whether a fee was “paid to anyone other than an attorney in connection with this petition,” you have not necessarily done anything wrong, but you may be questioned about it. If the person you payed helped you prepare the I-751, that person needs to provide information and sign in Part 10.
Question 20 asks about criminal activity. The second part of the question asks whether you have ever committed a crime for which you could have been arrested, but weren’t. Don’t be too quick to say yes—do you really have the necessary legal knowledge to say that what you did is a crime? If you’re not sure, talk to a lawyer who specializes in criminal law where the incident occurred.
Part 2: Question 1 asks whether you are Hispanic/Latino or not. USCIS defines Hispanic/Latino as “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.” For Question 2, you can check as many boxes as apply to you. If you are Hispanic/Latino, you might check no boxes for Question 2. USCIS defines White as “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.”
Part 3: If you are still married and the U.S. spouse is cooperating with the process of applying for your permanent residency, put an “X” in Box 1.a. and do not check any other box in this portion of the form.
Part 5: If you have children, Question 5 asks if they are “applying with you.” That means did they get two-year conditional green cards at the same or within 90 days of when you did (based on being your child)? If so, it’s important to check the “yes” box—your children won’t need to file their own I-751.
Part 6: If you are requesting an accommodation at your interview because of a disability or impairment—such as having a sign-language interpreter along—explain that here.
Part 7: There’s important information for you (the “petitioner”/conditional resident) to read here before signing. Question 2 asks about anyone who helped you prepare the I-751, and whether that person is an attorney or not.
Make sure you type or write your name in the box in the section containing the ￼Acknowledgement of Appointment at USCIS Application Support Center.
Part 8: This is where your spouse signs. Your spouse also has to type or write his or her name in the box in the section containing the ￼Acknowledgement of Appointment at USCIS Application Support Center.
Parts 9 and 10: These are for your interpreter, if you need one, and the person who helped you fill out the I-751, such as your attorney, if you use one.
After the I-751 Is Complete
When you and your spouse are finished preparing the joint petition, make a complete copy for your files. Then send the forms and other required documents to USCIS at the address on the I-751 web page.
Using a courier service or certified mail with return receipt requested is highly recommended. USCIS Service Centers receive a huge volume of mail, and if your application gets lost, your proof of mailing will help convince USCIS to look for the petition or not penalize you for filing late.
Checklist for Filing Joint Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence
Here are the items you will need to assemble for your joint petition to remove the conditions on your residence and become a U.S. permanent resident:
- Form I-751.
- Required supporting documents, including:
- A copy of your current green card (or I-551 in the language of USCIS); both the front and the back sides
- Evidence of your marital relationship from the last two years (or slightly less, depending on when you're filing), such as copies of leases or mortgages in both your names, copies of joint bank, credit card, and utility statements or bills, copies of children's birth certificates, and so forth.
- Application fee ($505 as of early 2016) and biometrics fee (for photos and fingerprints; $85 as of early 2016), together in one check or money order of $590. (If you’re over 79 years old you don’t have to pay the $85 biometrics fee, so send just $505.) Fees change from time to time, so double-check this on USCIS's I-751 web page.