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Married less than 2 years- The Green Card Process

If you are married less than 2 years and were sponsored for a Green card by your spouse then you may have already received you notice to file Form I-751. If not, make sure you file on time. The law required that anyone married less than two years on the date of the Green card interview be granted a Conditional Green Card for a period of two years. Ninety days before the completion of the two-year period form I-751 must be filed jointly by the couple, accompanied with proof that the two have been living together as husband and wife. This application must be filed with the regional service center. Once filed the following occurs:

  1. Upon receipt of the Form I-751 Petition, the Service mails a receipt notice to the conditional alien. The receipt notice informs the conditional alien that a 12-month extension for employment and travel purposes has been granted.
  2. I-751 Petitions are adjudicated according to the receive date.
  3. The I-751 Petitions are reviewed by a Center Adjudication Officer. The officer will review the petition to determine that it correct and complete. Next, the adjudication officer will review the documentary evidence submitted and will determine whether or not to waive the requirement of an interview. The computer system determines by a random process which cases have been selected for interview scheduling.
  4. The District Office is responsible for determining the percentage of interview slots and for determining the number of available interview slots for each day.
  5. If the petition is scheduled for this random interview, the VSC adjudicator will notate the file with this information. The file will be relocated to the appropriate office for the interview process.
  6. If the case is selected for interview scheduling, and no interview slot is available the case will be housed at the Vermont Service Center until the District Office schedules an interview or submits a request for that file.

Generally speaking, unless you receive an approval though the mail within a few months after filing, you can expect to be called in for an interview. This process can take up to one year. Unlike the first interview the burden of proving the case has shifted from you to the government; making an approval relatively easy. What this means is that during the first immigration interview two years earlier, it was the couple’s burden to prove that the marriage was a real one and not contrived just to help one party receive a Green card. This required a significant amount of documentation. If not satisfied with the documentation or the interview, the immigration service could easily place the case in deportation or deny the case altogether if not enough evidence is presented. In the second interview, however, the government has the burden of proving that the marriage was not entered into for a proper purpose. You don’t have to prove anything. This makes it easier for you and very difficult for the immigration service to deny a case. Now, I’m not saying that a couple that has been called into an interview should come in with nothing to establish the fact that they live together. On the contrary, even though the burden has shifted, it is wise to document the I-751 application as thoroughly as you did the first application. Only this way is approval of a permanent Green Card is generally assured. One side benefit of having to have an interview is that on the date of the approval, you probably have had you Green Card for a period of over three years and therefore may file for U.S. citizenship. The law permits the filing of a citizenship application 2 years and 9 months after the conditional green card has been approved.

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