By Katrina Mendoza
For the last few years, the adjudication of I-751 Petitions to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence by USCIS has been significantly backlogged. The global pandemic has only exacerbated these delays, leaving hundreds of thousands of conditional permanent residents with their statutes pending for years. Currently, around eighty percent of I-751 petitions are being completed within thirty-one months, a drastic increase from processing times pre-pandemic. In an effort to reduce this backlog and push for a more efficient immigration system overall, USCIS recently updated the interview waiver criteria for family-based immigrants seeking to remove the conditions on their permanent resident status. These new criteria will hopefully allow for more waivers to be granted and for I-751 petitions to be decided more quickly.
Who does the new I751 Petition policy impact?
Foreign nationals are granted conditional permanent residency if their green card application is based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident if they have been married for less than two years at the time the green card is approved. While a green card is usually valid for ten years, a conditional green card is valid for only two years. A conditional permanent resident must file an I-751 petition to request the removal of the conditions on their residency within 90 days of their permanent resident card expiring.
The conditional permanent resident is typically required to appear for an interview before the final adjudication of the petition. While a USCIS officer has the discretion to waive an I-751 interview, prior USCIS policy limited the circumstances where on officer could waive the interview. For example, the USCIS policy would not allow interview waivers for any conditional permanent residents that obtained status through consular processing, rather than adjusting status from within the United States.
USCIS's updated policy restores the authority of USCIS officers to use their independent judgement to waive an interview when adjudicating I-751 petitions, regardless of whether the petitioner obtained their status through consular processing or by adjusting status inside the United States.
What is the interview waiver criteria?
The new policy guidance states that USCIS officers may consider waiving an interview if:
- The applicant meets the eligibility requirements;
- The record contains sufficient evidence; and,
- There is no indication of fraud, misrepresentation, criminal bars, or other facts that may require an interview.
What does this mean, practically speaking? Conditional permanent residents who do not have a criminal history and who provide sufficient evidence of their good faith marriage may not be required to have an in-person interview with a USCIS officer. If you are a conditional permanent resident preparing to file an I-751 petition with your spouse, you can increase your chances of approval without an interview by providing lots of documents of your bona fide marriage.
Hopefully, these policy changes are the beginnings of more changes of policy and staffing allocations within USCIS that will reduce case backlogs and improve processes. For conditional permanent residents who are preparing to start this daunting process or who have been waitingin limbo, this new I-751 interview waiver policy means that there is at least one less barrier ahead. Questions?
Our team at World One Law Group consists of attorneys who specialize in family-based immigration matters and regularly assist clients with their I-751 Petitionsto Remove Conditions on Residence. If you have questions about your immigration situation and would like to schedule a consultation, please email [email protected] or call our office at 425-250-8110. We would be happy to meet with you.
For more information and updates on U.S. immigration news, please visit our website at www.world1law.com.