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K Visa FAQ - K1 Fiance Visa, K3 Spousal Visa and other Marriage Based Immigration Questions
A Complete guide for obtaining a K1 and K3 (plus derivitive) Visa, immigrating, and becoming a US Citizen.


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Section 7.0....LIFTING OF CONDITIONAL STATUS

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Introductory FAQ Note regarding those folks who wait more than 2 years for AOS approval and who thus escape the conditional period.
7.1) ..Please explain "Conditional Permanent Residency"
7.2) ..When do I become a Permanent Resident (conditional status removed)?
7.3) ..Okay, when do I file the I-751 to lift conditional status?
7.4) ..How to we file for lifting of conditions for my K2 child?
7.5) ..Where should I send the application package?
7.6) ..Why is filing 90 days before the expiration of my 2 year green card so important?
7.7) ..Is there another interview required to lift my conditional status?
7.8) ..What "evidence" should I submit in order to avoid an interview?
7.8.1) ..So what does USCIS (INS) want to see in the affidavit from people we know??
7.8.2) ..Does the USCIS (INS) do any background checks for conditional residents such as FBI and CIA checks?
7.9) ..How will I be notified by USCIS (INS)? What is my status before I get a new green card?
7.9.1) ..So I have to go back to the local USCIS (INS) office even after I have received unconditional permanent resident status?
7.10) ..The green card is only good for 10 years!!
7.11) ..My marriage fell apart and we are divorced. Can I still get the conditional status lifted?

Answers:

Introductory Note: As mentioned previously, if you have been married more than 2 years when your Adjustment application is approved (I-551 stamp in the passport), you probably will become a permanent resident with no conditional period. If so, the information in this section will not apply to you. You may want to read the step-by-step guide to filing an I-751.

7.1)...Please explain "Conditional Permanent Residency"?
A..A two year Conditional Residency is granted to those who apply for Adjustment of Status based on marriage to a US Citizen. This two year period helps to deter visa fraud and marriages of convenience. During the "conditional" period, you still have all the rights of a Permanent Resident. Your status as a permanent resident expires at the end of this two year period unless you file for lifting of the conditional status.
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7.2)..When do I become a Permanent Resident (conditional status removed)?
A..You become a permanent resident (conditional status removed) after approval of the I-751 "Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence".
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7.3) ..Okay, when do I file the I-751 to lift conditional status?
A..Option #1: If your passport is stamped with the I-551 at the adjustment of status interview, the stamp has the AOS approval date written on it. Your 2 year conditional period begins with that date. Ninety (90) days prior to the end of the conditional period, you and your US Citizen spouse will apply together for a removal of the "conditional" status by filing form I-751 together as a married couple.

Option #2: As is more likley the case now, the I-551 stamps are not automatically given at the conclusion of an AOS interview now due to namechecks and files moving around. Green Cards are routinely mailed to the beneficiaries within 4 weeks (if approved) or delayed by months due to name checks pending. The accurate date of your PR is printed on the front of the GC as 'Resident Since:".
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7.4) ..How to we file for lifting of conditions for my K2 child?
A..If your K2 achieved permanent resident status at the same time as the K1, or within 90 days afterwards, then include them on the joint petition. If the K2 achieved permanent resident status more than 90 days after the K1, or if the parents are NOT filing a joint petition (due to termination of the marriage), the K2 will file their own I-751.
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7.5) ..Where should I send the application package?
A..The I-751 form and accompanying documents are mailed to either the USCIS California or Vermont Service Centers (click here to see the filing location for your state) depending on your state of residence.
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7.6) ..Why is filing 90 days before the expiration of my 2 year green card so important?
A..You file within the allowed 90 day window so that you comply with law and preserve your PR status. Filiing at the earliest moment helps you do this, and allows enough time for the Notice 797C to get to the PR. The NOA + expired Green Card are their only evidence of status.

You and your spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on your residence. You should apply during the 90 days before your second anniversary as a conditional resident. The expiration date on your alien registration card (commonly know as green card) is also the date of your second anniversary as a conditional resident. If you do not apply to remove the conditions in time, you could lose your conditional resident status and be removed from the country.

As a legal permanent resident, you should have received a permanent resident card. This card will continue to prove that you have a right to live and work in the United States permanently. If you file your USCIS Form I-751 (Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence) on time, the USCIS will extend your conditional resident status for up to 12 months while your Form I-751 petition is under review.
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7.7) ..Is there another interview required to lift my conditional status?
A..All though the vast majority of jointly filed I-751s do not have an interview, you may indeed be required to attend an interview. Some files are selected for a sort of quality control check on the system, and may be transferred to the Local Office for interview. These cases may receive an RFE from the local office, and then find that the interview is cancelled. There is also a growing number of people being called for interviews (4/07) and there is a suspicion among the online community that PRs who did not have an AOS interview (via transfer to CSC or via the DORA program) may be automatically put in the interview queue for I-751.

At any rate, there should be no automatic assumption of a problem just because you get an interview letter.
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7.8) ..What evidence should we submit?
A..The list is endless, and you can send whatever evidence you want to the USCIS (INS) in support of your petition. While overwhelming the USCIS (INS) is not neccesarily a good idea, sending them a complete and well rounded amount of evidence that gives them a full understanding of your case is a good idea.

Your list might include:
  • You *must* include a copy of your I-551 green card as initial evidence.
  • Bank statements showing both names.
  • Insurance policies showing the spouse as beneficiary.
  • Tax returns filed jointly.
  • Loan payment papers showing both names.
  • Utility bills addressed to either of you.
  • Copies of tickets, boarding passes showing you traveled together (if you traveled).
  • Birth certificates of any children born to you.
  • Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by at least two people who have known both of you since your conditional residence was granted and have personal knowledge of your marriage and relationship.
  • Any other sort of common, ordinary correspondence addressed to either or both of you at the same address.

You may include a cover letter (see the example forms page) listing all the evidence so that the inspecting officer can quickly see what is in the package. This will help USCIS (INS) to determine if all the evidence which they require has been included without having to wade through many pages.

USCIS (INS) may ask for additional evidence after the petition has been filed, or they may schedule an interview for you some weeks or months into the future.


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7.8.1) ..So what does USCIS (INS) want to see in the affidavit from people we know??
A..I did the I-751 in 1997, and it was approved without an interview. I asked the USCIS (INS) the very same question. I did exactly what they told me to do for the affidavits.

- Choose 2 friends who know you well *as a married couple*
- Have EACH friend write a letter
- Letter format:
- Must include the person's name, date of birth, SSN, address, and phone.
- Must be dated.
- Must state how the person came to know you [and list each of you by name).
- When and for how long they have known you.
- Must state that they have seen you a certain amount of time ['frequently' works] since you have been married and that you appear to be a married couple.
- Must be signed, but does not have to be notarized.


The above poster then described the format used for her letters:

David Smith
Address
City, State zip
(telephone number)

Date


To whom It may concern:


I am writing this letter to support the I-751 petition by Jane and
John Doe. I have known Jane and John since (date), when we met while
John and I were co-workers. I served as best man at their wedding.
Since their marriage, I have seen Jane and John together as a couple
many times and in a variety of situations, both at my house and
theirs, as well as in public. They appear to be a legitimately
married couple.

The most recent time that I saw them as a couple was at Jane's
surprise birthday party hosted by John.

If you have any questions, I may be reached at the phone number or the
address above.


sincerely,


David Smith
(social security number)
(date of birth)



* See the example forms page for additional example letters.

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7.8.2) ..Does the USCIS (INS) do any background checks for conditional residents such as FBI and CIA checks?
A..There is no new check but you do have to answer questions about your criminal history since becoming a permanent resident (and obviously, if you lie, this is grounds for deportation either now or at a later date). If you later apply for naturalization there will be a further FBI check.
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7.9) ..How will I be notified by USCIS (INS)? What is my status before I get a new green card?
A..When the USCIS (INS) accepts your petition, they will send a filing receipt. Nigel reported (Feb 2000) this receipt was an I-797C Notice of Action which stated "Your alien card is extended one year - employment and travel authorized." Keep the receipt with your green card.
If a K2 is also listed on the petition, they will receive their own "duplicate notice" (which is a letter, not an actual I-797C) from USCIS (INS) which will state they have been included on the petition as a dependent, and that they also have work and travel authorization, and that the letter serves as proof.

Many people are concerned about their current proof of status during the application period. If you have an expired Green Card, plus a NOA I-797c, you have evidence of status. If you have not yet recieved your NOA and have immediate travel plans or another urgent need for evidence of status, you may make an Infopass appointment and ask for an I-551 stamp in your passport. Most offices will not give this stamp out without a compelling reason; save yourself a trip if you 'only' want a stamp for your peace of mind.

When the petition is approved, you will get a letter from USCIS (INS) notifying you of the decision. Your new permanent status will be coded depending on your original status. CR-1 becomes IR-1, CF-1 becomes IF-1 etc. If there is a K2 involved, they will get a separate letter from USCIS (INS) notifying them of their status, which will be a IF2, or "Immigrant Fiance(e) 2".

Nigel reported the text of this letter in a newsgroup posting (March 2000) as follows: (...begin quote...)

File Number:
Date of Decision: 03/08/2000


New Classification
Symbol: IF1


Admission Date: 01/29/1988


Your request for the removal of the conditional basis of your permanent
resident status has been approved. You are deemed to be a lawful permanent
resident of the United States as of the date of your original admission or
adjustment of status.

You must obtain a new alien registration receipt card (Form I-551). To do
so, appear in person at the Service office show below. Bring two recent
photos of the same type as on your present alien card (if needed, exact
specifications may be obtained from the Service office shown below). Your
new alien registration receipt card will be mailed to you within six months.


You should not travel outside the United States before receiving your new
card unless you have first received a passport endorsement from this Service
indicating that your new card is being processed.


(...end quote...)



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7.9.1) ..So I have to go back to the local USCIS (INS) office after approval of my I-751?
A..Procedures have been in flux for the past year or so and there is no single answer to this question. Most typically, you have already had a biometrics appointment before your notice of approval, and your new Green Card will be mailed to you. However, you should follow all directions received from USCIS. I-751 cases are generally completed in 6-12 months, currently.

Note: Though an appointment is not supposed to be required, an applicant noted in mid-August, 2002 "We took our approval letter from Mesquite, TX to the USCIS (INS) office in West Palm Beach, Florida to get our conditional status lifted. They turned us away telling us we needed an appointment. We had to make an appointment and return."
  • First, you will be processed for a new greencard.
    For this you will bring 2 photos (or maybe 3 photos, read the approval letter for specifics) similar to the photos on your conditional greencard. You will have a fingerprint taken as well. There will be no fee charged for this processing. The local USCIS (INS) office will likely take your conditional greencard, so unless you think of an inventive method of keeping it, you won't have it for your scrapbook.
  • Second, you will get an I-551 "stamp in the passport".
    This will be similar to the stamp you got when you were approved for Adjustment of Status, and it will be good for one year. It continues your work authorization. Unfortunately, it also means your passport is your only "proof of status" until your new greencard arrives. If your new greencard should take longer than one year to arrive, you will need to go back to the local office and get another stamp (this is very unlikely to happen).
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7.10) ..The green card is only good for 10 years!!
A..Although your new permanent resident green card is good for 10 years, your permanent resident status does NOT expire after 10 years. You must renew your expired card; instructions are here: How Do I Renew My Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)?

7.11) ..My marriage fell apart and we are divorced. Can I still get the conditional status lifted?
A..The I-751 is normally filed by a married couple, but if you have divorced, or your US Citizen spouse has died, you may file the petition on your own. The I-751 form itself contains provisions for a waiver of the requirement to file jointly with the US Citizen spouse. You may file the I-751 immediately upon divorce or the death of your spouse, and you will be required to provide evidence that you married in good faith, rather than to just get a green card by marrying a US Citizen. You will be required to submit a copy of the divorce decree or death certificate.
The I-751 also makes provisions for a waiver for filing jointly with your spouse, if you are still married, but "battered or subject to extreme mental cruelty". If you are in this unfortunate situation, you need the help of an experienced immigration attorney.
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This FAQ is located at http://www.visajourney.com/faq/k1faq.htm