By:  Richard Hanus, Esq.

Published September 19, 2021

I-751 Receipts Now Feature a 24 month Extension of Resident Status

Foreign nationals obtaining lawful permanent resident status, also known as a “green card”, based on a recent marriage are accorded a 2 year conditional resident card – a process that is among the most popular U.S. immigration avenues.  The process of renewing the 2 year card involves the filing of an I-751 Petition to Remove Conditional Basis of Residence and in recent years the processing time for such filings have skyrocketed.  To address this reality, U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/CIS) now issues receipts with language extending the validity of these 2 year cards by 24 months while processing is pending  –as opposed to just 18 months, as was the previous policy.

As background, when a marriage that is the basis of a green card filing takes place less than 2 years prior to the application approval, the foreign national’s resident card is issued with just a 2 year validity and on a conditional basis.  At the end of the 2 year conditional resident period, specifically in the 90 day period leading up to the card’s expiration, the parties are required to file Form I-751 to confirm that their marriage remains intact and the couple continues to reside together.  As stated, DHS/CIS now issues I-751 receipts with a 24 month validity, during which time the foreign national’s authorization to be employed in the U.S. and travel internationally is extended.

Importantly, not all conditional residents file their I-751 petitions based on an intact marriage, and the option to file an I-751 “waiver” petition when the marital relationship has broken down is available under various circumstances and without the cooperation of the U.S. citizen spouse.  Also, approvals on I-751 petitions sometimes are issued without a DHS/CIS interview and when the petition is filed with enough supporting documentation to address the applicable legal issues.  Other times, CIS will schedule an interview to take additional applicant testimony to help assess petitioner eligibility.

Once an I-751 petition is approved and the conditional basis on residence is removed, the foreign national is issued an unconditional, 10 year permanent resident card.

Update on COVID Vaccine Requirements for Immigration Medical Exams

In recent weeks, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced a new policy where applicants for lawful permanent residence now need to provide proof of a COVID vaccination prior to being approved.  Earlier this week, to follow up on the initial guidance,  DHS/CIS issued new instructions providing further direction on how the rule will be implemented for I-485 adjustment of status applicants undergoing processing in the U.S.

Starting October 1, individuals visiting a DHS/CIS accredited physician to have their required Form I-693 medical exam certification completed and sealed will now need to provide proof they have received one of the 3 approved COVID 19 vaccinations (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson).

According to the plain language of the new policy, it appears only applicants visiting a physician for I-693 completion on or after October 1, 2021 are subject to this new requirement, and with those obtaining a sealed exam prior to this date exempt from the requirement.

Importantly, a variety of classes of applicants may be excused from this vaccine requirement, including those with certain medical conditions or deeply held religious beliefs.

PUBLISHED September 19, 2021– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2021, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois