Can I file an I-751 on my own if my spouse is abusing me?
Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, practicing immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St Louis, Missouri.
So we have sadly seen an uptake, an increase, a spike in consults that we're doing for foreign nationals who married a U S citizen and it's time to file for the I-751, a petition to remove the conditions on their green card and they are away from their spouse.
And they're away from their spouse because the spouse is abusive and the abuse is documented. So the law says, as part of the Violence Against Women Act, that you can file an I-751 on your own, that means without the spouse, if you can demonstrate abuse on the part of the U S citizen or lawful permanent resident sponsor.
So, how does this all work? Well, at the end of the two years of getting your conditional green card, you are going to have file an I-751.
Usually this is done jointly with the U S citizen and the foreign national. but we've been seeing a lot of scenarios lately where the U S citizen is being abusive and or trying to hold the immigration status of the foreign national over them.
In other words, they're abusing them and they're saying things like, if you ever call the police or if you ever call USCIS, I'm just going to tell them that you married me for a green card, that you are a fraud, that you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, that this marriage wasn't real and that you only married me in order to get a green card."
So when that happens, the foreign national oftentimes moves out, especially if there's physical abuse and they file the I-751 on their own.
Now, strangely, the other day I had a consult where someone was asking, "Can I file an I-751 based on abuse and stay with the U S citizen?"
I think that would be very, very tricky. I also think USCIS might not believe you if you continue to live with the U S citizen. So, not to say that you couldn't do it, and not to say that you shouldn't do it, but you need to protect yourself.
And so in theory, the receipt notices could come back to your house and that could set off your abusive spouse. There's all kinds of reasons for this. But sadly we see this a lot, we see people who come to the United States based on marriage and they're sort of expected to work right away and the U S citizen locks up their passport and locks up their green card.
These are all forms of abuse, not to mention the physical abuse that we've been seeing more of.
So, these cases make us sad, but they also make us want to fight. They make us want to protect and do what we can to help the foreign national maintain their status in the United States and to get the conditions removed on their green card.
So hopefully you're not experiencing any kind of forms of abuse, but if you are, we'd be happy to help you. We'd be proud to represent you.
We'd like to do everything we can to try to put your mind at ease, try to help you get your green card on the longterm 10 year basis. And to put you on a path toward citizenship. I want you to know that the law does have these protections out there.
So first and foremost, you have to keep yourself safe. You have to do whatever you can to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional stability and safety. And then the immigration piece can be figured out. So we've handled, unfortunately, a fair number of these cases.
We've been seeing more and more of them lately. So I wanted to make this video just to fill you in.
If you have questions about this, give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. And if you like this video, we ask that you share it out on social and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one.
Thanks a lot. Have a great day.