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I-751 on File, Marriage in Trouble

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My I-751 is on file and our marriage is collapsing. Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington DC. In today's video, we're going to talk about scenarios where someone has received a two year conditional green card, and they have gone ahead with their spouse and filed an I-751 petition for removal of conditions. And then while that case is pending things go poorly with the marriage. And of course, with the immigration delays that we're seeing at USCIS, it's taking much, much, much, much, much longer to get an I-751 approved. It used to take two, three, four months. You would submit a little bit of extra evidence and eventually the case would be approved and you'd receive your 10 year green card. It was almost automatic, but during the Trump years, they infused a lot of fraud checks and security checks and all these other BS requirements to make these cases take a whole lot longer.

And part of that is by design. Their thought process is if we delay the marriage and we delay the ten-year green card, we're going to put stress on the marriage and eventually some cases will fall apart. And then we won't have to give the 10 year green card, or we'll at least make it harder for the person to get the 10 year green card. So if you find yourself in one of those situations where you have an I-751 pending, you filed for removal of conditions on your lawful permanent resident, and now you and your spouse are fighting and you and your spouse are getting divorced. That's when things get a little tricky and it get tricky, a couple of different ways. My wife Amani had a case where the couple got divorced after about a year and a half of the I-751 pending.

And the divorce was on file and Amani and our client notified USCIS, but USCIS went ahead and approved the 751. Now that can be a little bit tricky, not so much for the 751 itself, but for when this client wanted to apply for citizenship. But more often, what we see in these situations is that the foreign national has to make a decision. They have to make a decision. Do I want to go ahead with the I-751 that is on file? Or do I want to go ahead and file for divorce and file for removal of the conditions on the good faith marriage exception or under the Violence Against Women Act if that's applicable. And that is a tricky question, because a lot of times, if your case has been pending for a really long time, you might feel really invested in it and you might not want to lose your place in line.

And we totally get that. Now there are lawyers who say that you can convert your I-751 jointly filed to an I-751 solo. We haven't had great success with that. I've heard other lawyers say that it does work. We haven't really seen that. So what we actually do is we wait for our client to get their divorce. And then we file a new I-751 and we call it I-751 solo. And the reason for that is that we don't want to depend in any way, shape or form on the US citizen. Look, if things are going bad, if your marriage is going down the hill, the last thing you want to do is to rely on your immigration status on that spouse who's divorcing you. So in our mind, our job is to get them, if they've decided the marriage is over, to get them away from their spouse in every which way and form, and specifically to divorced so that they can file that I-751 solo.

Because the thing is you can't file an I-751 solo if you're still married, the divorce actually has to be final. So we've had situations where clients have come to us. They're 751 has been pending for a long time. They know the marriage is over, their spouse knows the marriage is over and we will get a new I-751 together and on file and then we'll withdraw or the clients will withdraw the I-751 jointly that was filed by the US citizen or the green card holder and the spouse who's trying to remove conditions. So these are tricky little scenarios and there's lots of little angles to it. Different things happen and of course it always depends on the messy facts of each client's life.

But if you find yourself with a long pending I-751 and your marriage is going down the crapper, let us know if you need our help, (314) 961-8200. Email us info at Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called immigrant home. We'd love to have you in there. We're well over 6,000 members of immigrant home, where people are talking about immigration every day. Don't forget our YouTube channel. You should subscribe. And that way, whenever we make a video like this one, which lately has been each and every day, you'll get an update when we post it. And then of course, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon central, you'll find us live in our Facebook group and on our YouTube channel answering as many of your immigration law related questions as possible in just under 60 minutes. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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