A Conditional Permanent Resident (CPR) who obtained his or her CPR status through marriage (of less than two years) to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must file an Application for Removal of Conditions (using Form I-751) to remove conditions on his or her status and maintain Lawful Permanent Resident status.
Removal of Conditions
According to USCIS policy, there is a presumption of "marriage fraud" if a marriage has been valid for less than two years at the time the permanent residence application is approved by USCIS. In this case, a Conditional Permanent Resident is granted a provisional U.S. residency for two-years, and must then file a joint petition with the U.S. citizen spouse to document the continuing validity of the marriage. In order for a CPR to be granted ongoing Lawful Permanent Resident status, a Joint Petition to Remove the Conditional Basis of Alien's Permanent Resident Status (Form 1-751) must be filed within the ninety (90) day period before the expiration date of the CPR card. The 2-year expiration date of CPR status reflects the fact that permanent resident status is conditional upon the maintenance of a valid marriage.
The joint petition, when filed with USCIS, must be accompanied by evidence that the marriage is legitimate through documentation that the couple is living and acting as a married couple. Typical evidence includes documentation of the birth of children; co-habitation; and the "comingling of assets." USCIS has specified four categories of documents that can serve as supporting evidence. USCIS requires that evidence be submitted from at least two of the following categories. We recommend submitting as many as possible.
Evidence of Joint Residence: Such documentation includes a lease, deed or mortgage contract showing joint occupancy or joint ownership of a common residence.
Financial Records Indicating Joint Ownership of Other Assets or Joint Liabilities: This evidence includes jointly filed tax returns, bank loans cosigned by both spouses, joint credit accounts or credit cards, title to a vehicle or vacation property, and joint bank accounts or other financial instruments or securities such as stock certificates.
Affidavits from at least Two Persons: In the absence of the first two categories of evidence, the CPR and the sponsoring spouse may have to submit affidavits from at least two persons (who have known the couple since the CPR obtained conditional resident status). These affidavits should attest to the existence of the marital relationship, such as, having resided together continuously, having always presented as a married couple, and any other factors demonstrating an ongoing relationship.
Other Evidence Establishing a Bona Fide Relationship: Other evidence might include affidavits from employers indicating that personnel records indicate marriage, and that employer-provided benefit plans include one spouse as a dependent. Insurance policies, naming both parties, may demonstrate the existence of a bona fide relationship. Additionally, family photographs (particularly those that include parents and other family members) may be useful. Joint documentation such as utility bills, airline itineraries, etc. can also be submitted. Birth certificates of children naming both parties as the parents is also strong evidence of a legitimate marriage.
We recommend maintaining a file to collect this evidence so that when the time comes to file the joint petition, all the evidence required to show that you have a legitimate marriage is readily available.