Things to Consider When Applying to Remove Conditions on a Marriage-based Green Card
Foreign spouses applying for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen will be issued a conditional green card, valid for two years, if the couple has been married for less than two years at the time of the green card interview. Before the conditional green card expires, the couple must file Form I-751. An approval of Form I-751 removes conditions on residency by proving a bona fide marriage. A denial can result in the removal of the foreign spouse.
The purpose of the I-751 process is to prove that a marriage was formed with a genuine intent to live together and not to fraudulently obtain a green card. This process is used to provide evidence of a bona fide marriage. Some documents to submit include financial records showing joint ownership of assets and joint responsibility of liabilities, birth certificates of any children born to the marriage, mortgage or lease agreements showing joint occupancy of a residence, and photographs of the couple. Based on the evidence submitted, USCIS will assign a fraud level based on an officer’s judgement of the quality of the petition and evidence provided. If USCIS believes the case does not present a likelihood of marriage fraud, it may choose to waive the I-751 interview.
In some cases, USCIS will use a tactic referred to as “bed checks.” These bed checks can occur both before and after a foreign spouse’s green card approval. This tactic can be used on both cases that USCIS is questioning and on seemingly strong, low-risk cases.
During a bed check, an officer will show up at a couple’s home, typically early in the morning. An officer will take note of who answers the door. In many cases, an officer will ask to look around the house. Some things officers look for include clothing, toothbrushes, photos of the couple, and where the couple sleeps. This is an attempt to determine whether or not there are indications of a genuine marriage. An officer will take pictures of the premises and ask the couple questions.
It can be difficult to predict whether or not an officer will show up without notice for a bed check. It is a good idea for couples filing a Form I-751 to be prepared for the possibility of a bed check. Couples that are able to provide a strong showing of a bona fide marriage do not generally run into significant issues.
If you are interested in applying to remove the conditions on your green card or have questions about the process, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!