In a reversal of policy initially formed under the administrations’ “extreme vetting”, USCIS officers now have the discretion to waive interviews for I-751 petitioners seeking to remove conditions of their permanent residency provided that they have presented sufficient documentary evidence and meet other requirements.
Typically, foreign nationals receiving residency through a spouse who have been married less than two years at the time of obtaining a Green Card receive conditional permanent residency. This conditional permanent residency period lasts the first two years after admission to the United States. Within ninety days of the expiration of conditional permanent residency, the foreign national must file a Form I-751 to remove the conditions of their residency and receive unconditional permanent residency in the form of a Green Card valid for ten years.
Following policy implementation by the Trump Administration, USCIS required that ALL conditional permanent residents appear for an interview before receiving their permanent residence card, regardless of the documentary evidence on file.
Beginning December 10, 2018, USCIS officers may waive the interview requirement if: (1) there is sufficient documentary evidence that the marriage is valid and was not entered into to evade the immigration laws; (2) the foreign national was interviewed previously; (3) there is no allegation of fraud or misrepresentation; and (4) there are no complex facts or issues to be adjudicated. Essentially, the interview may be waived for straightforward cases with strong documentary evidence of the authenticity of the underlying marriage as long as the foreign national has been previously interviewed by USCIS.
This is a welcomed change to USCIS policy. USCIS has suffered a growing backlog of I-751 removal of condition cases over the last several years. The wait time for interviews and subsequent approval of I-751 cases has extended to nearly eighteen months, forcing USCIS to send automatic extension letters to applicants who could not be interviewed within the first one-year extension of their residency previously granted. This appears to be a positive move which will empower officers to approve cases with strong bona fides and, hopefully, minimize the growing backlog of I-751 cases.
Contact us today if you are interested in sponsoring a spouse to immigrate to the United States or require assistance with condition removal.