I’m a conditional resident, having married a U.S. citizen. Our marriage has been rocky since the beginning. My husband spends a lot of time at his office and I hardly see him. It was difficult getting him to help fill out the I-751 application to apply for my permanent green card. We got it into the mail days before it was due.
I just want this process to be over and done with! I submitted a few documents to USCIS with the Form I-751, but not a lot. Am I likely to be called in for an interview, or can USCIS just approve my case without one?
According to U.S. immigration law, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is expected to schedule EVERY I-751 applicant to remove the conditions on residence for an in-person interview. In practice, however, many if not most of these interviews are "waived."
ALSO: During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, USCIS is not holding any in-person interviews. Whether that means it will approve more I-751 cases without an interview or merely put them on hold, however, remains to be seen.
In order to grant a waiver, USCIS must decide, upon review of the case file, that it has received enough evidence with which to approve the immigrant’s joint petition to remove the conditions on residence (Form I-751) without conducting an interview and meeting the couple personally. This documentary evidence must clearly show that the marriage is bona fide, and not a sham or fraud to receive a green card.
In addition, according to guidance for USCIS officers found in a 2018 memo, USCIS must have already conducted an interview with the immigrant, observe no signs of fraud or misrepresentation in the Form I-751 or supporting documents, and believe there to be no complex facts or issues of law that should be addressed in person with the applicant.
As you can see, whether USCIS chooses to call you in for an interview depends largely on the facts of your case and the quality of your I-751 submission. It’s important to remember that the main purpose of conditional residence is to give USCIS a second look at whether your marriage is bona fide.
If yours was a marginal case to begin with (perhaps the officer had doubts about your relationship and asked for extra evidence at that time, for instance), the agency may call you in for an interview just to have a thorough second look at your case.
And if the documents you submitted seem too sparse or don’t really point to a shared life, with joint assets, shared financial obligations, and so forth, that might also give USCIS cause to refuse to waive the interview requirement in your case.
It’s definitely a good thing that your husband signed onto the joint petition. If he hadn’t, and you had asked for a waiver of the joint-filing requirement, that would raise the chances of being called in for an interview.
All that said, while your reluctance to attend an interview is understandable, realize that a rocky marriage is not a disqualifying factor for permanent U.S. residence. The important thing is whether the marriage is real, not whether it’s stable.
If you are called in for an interview, however, be sure to work extra hard to find more documents proving your valid marriage. Better yet, seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.