Every year, thousands of newcomers travel to the US to marry a citizen or lawful permanent resident. After a successful application for permanent resident status, they receive a conditional two-year conditional lawful permanent resident status, otherwise known as a “green card”. To lift the conditions and get a 10-year “permanent” green card, the Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 requires them to file a joint I-751 petition with their spouse before the two-year expiration date is up.
This measure is designed to combat marriage fraud. But relationships don’t always turn out as hoped. Many immigrants enter into a marriage in good faith, only to learn that their citizen or permanent resident spouse is abusive, unfaithful, or otherwise unbearable to live with. If this happens to you, there are legally-recognized exceptions to the joint petition requirement.
What is the I-751 Waiver?
If you are a conditional green card holder who has divorced your spouse, you can request a waiver of the joint filing requirement. The law allows you to petition individually under one or more of the following conditions:
- You married your spouse in good faith, but the relationship was ended by divorce or the death of your spouse.
- You married your spouse in good faith, but s/he subjected you to physical violence or extreme cruelty.
- Removing your status and deporting you would result in extreme hardship.
To prove that your marriage was legitimate, you will have to show that you came to the US with the honest intention of making a life here with your spouse. Acceptable proof may include:
- Birth certificates for children you had together
- Statements for joint bank accounts and credit cards
- Mortgages or lease agreements that you both signed
- Insurance documents with both of your names on them
You should also present letters from family, friends, and other parties who can confirm that the marriage was bona fide. There are several other documents you must submit.
Contact a Seattle Immigration Attorney
If your marriage did not turn out as expected and the outcome was a divorce or legal separation, you may be able to obtain an I-751 waiver that lets you file your petition on your own. At ZafiroLaw, we can help you determine whether you qualify for a waiver and we can also represent you in your petition to remove conditions on your permanent resident status. Attorney Katrina Zafiro has the experience and ability to present a waiver application that meets the stringent legal criteria and lets you stay in America. For more information, please call 206-547-9906.