I-751 Removing Conditions on Green Card with Abuse Waiver

We all know that this world isn’t perfect; bad things happen to good people. Some U.S. citizens believe that when they sponsor an immigrant to move to US, they have complete control over their lives. Yes, this may sound like modern day slavery, but it happens everyday! I get countless emails describing some very abusive relationships and they stay in these situations due to fear of deportation. That is why I feel so strongly in educating my readers about their legal rights.

I am not an immigration attorney. But guess what? You don’t need to be one to understand the ins and outs of the immigration system. Knowing your rights under the law will help you navigate the immigration process without fear. There is no reason for you to stay in an abusive relationship for the sole purpose of retaining your legal resident status.

USCIS doesn’t require that your marriage last forever. Heck, they don’t care if you both love each other. What they look for is that your initial intentions were genuine. What does this mean? It implies that you had an honest intention to marry your spouse for the purpose of love. During your interview, you were probably asked a number of questions about your relationship and your answers were used to make this determination.

Removing Conditions on Green Card After a Divorce

With divorce rates being close to 50% in America, it’s no surprise that many green card holders will need to file for removal of conditions alone. This usually isn’t a problem because you no longer need your spouse in the picture. By the time you have your 2-year green card, you can finish your immigration journey all by yourself. The U.S. citizen spouse has already promised to support you so you don’t use the welfare system.

I’m sure you are wondering whether you will be required to go to an interview. The answer is yes.

If you are called for an interview, don’t panic. Be prepared to state your case clearly to the immigration officer and you should have a good chance of being approved. You will need to show that you entered the marriage in good faith with sufficient evidence.

List of evidence you can use to show good faith marriage:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Rental agreement/mortgage documents
  • Car loan documents
  • Joint tax returns
  • Life insurance policies
  • Birth certificate of children
  • Joint bank/credit card statements

As you can see from the list above, they are looking for co-mingling of finances. Although not all married couples handle their money jointly, but showing that you trust each other with money will be a big help. Also, make sure that the timeline for these documents goes back to the beginning of your marriage. There are some green card holders that create evidence right before they apply for removal of conditions. This is dangerous and USCIS will see right through it.

Apply for 1-751 Based on Abuse Waiver

Form I-751 waiver is available for conditional residents who have been battered or abused by their U.S. citizen spouse. You are not eligible to file until after you have already received your condition 2-year green card. The same is true for abused or battered foreign-born children who have never been conditional residents.

However, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) permits domestic violence victims and their children to self-petition for a green card by filing Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant, found on the USCIS I-360 page. It’s important to note that men are also eligible to file this petition. Some men may feel hesitant to file for VAWA against their US citizen spouse, but abuse can happen to both sexes.

Read more about how to apply for VAWA.

What USCIS considers to be battery is straightforward: physical violence committed against you by your spouse.

Physical violence can include:

  • punching,
  • slapping,
  • pushing,
  • other bodily injury, and
  • forced sex

USCIS defines “extreme cruelty” to be nonviolent abuse that your U.S. citizen spouse intentionally inflicted upon you in order to dominate, control, or humiliate you.

Some examples of behavior that conditional residents have used to prove “extreme cruelty,” are:

  • Threatening to report you to USCIS or any other government agency.
  • Refusal to jointly file Form I-751 with you.
  • Threatening to divorce you, especially if divorce is taboo in your culture or religion.
  • Threatening to physically hurt you or your loved ones, especially to instill fear of your spouse.
  • Invading your privacy in order to control you, including reading or intercepting your mail and emails, monitoring your phone calls and computer usage, and snooping in your personal belongings.
  • Withholding money or food from you as punishment.
  • Not allowing you to contact your family or friends.
  • Taking away your means of transportation or important documents (such as your driver’s license or passport) in order to keep you from leaving the home.
  • Intentionally destroying or disposing of your personal property.
  • Repeated uncontrollable anger or screaming towards you.
  • Name calling and making cruel insults (both in public and in private) to humiliate you.

You will need to provide as much detail and specific instances of your spouse’s abusive actions and how these actions hurt you and controlled your life. It can be painful and emotionally difficult to recount instances of this abusive behavior, but it is necessary in order to convince USCIS to grant you a waiver.

You will need evidence to prove that you were a victim of domestic violence, so you should ideally provide more than just a personal statement. Official police reports, medical records, photographs of injuries, and affidavits from social workers and psychologists will be valuable. You can also submit affidavits from friends and family who have witness this abuse.

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