Form I-751 is a petition to remove conditions on residence. This petition is used by conditional residents who obtained status through marriage, to request that USCIS remove the conditions on his or her residence. If you are filing with your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse (“filing jointly”), then you must file your Form I-751 during the 90 day period immediately before your conditional residence expires. An untimely filing of Form I-751 can lead to many consequences.
Your foreign spouse’s conditional resident status will automatically be terminated. If you fail to submit Form I-751, the USCIS Service Center will generally wait 60 days after the conditional residence has expired to give you a final chance to file the petition. If you still fail to submit the petition after the 60 day period, then there’s a possibility that you will be issued a Notice to Appear, which initiates removal proceedings (otherwise known as “deportation”).
USCIS may consider a late filing only if the foreign spouse satisfactorily proves to the USCIS adjudicator a “good cause” reason for a failure to file timely. There is broad discretion for what constitutes “good cause,” but some examples may include: hospitalization, long term illness, death of a family member, legal issues, financial problems, bereavement, work commitments, or a family member being on active duty with the U.S. military.
Merely forgetting to file is not good cause, so it is important to explain what caused a late filing, such as an illness or traumatic event. It can also be helpful to explain what allowed you to remember to file Form I-751. The adjudicator will likely take into account exactly how late the filing was. The adjudicator can potentially accept your explanation on their first look, but may also request verifying evidence. If your explanation and evidence are inadequate for the adjudicator to find “good cause,” then additional evidence may be requested or they may schedule an interview. If it is decided that there is no good cause, then the petition will be denied.