This topic is very specific since it intermingles the following items:
- I-90 Green Card Renewal
- I-751 Removal of Conditions on a 2-Year Conditional Green Card
- The 2-Year Conditional Green Card
- Automatic Extension Letters issued by both the I-90 and I-751
- Travel Abroad
However, let’s first tackle basic descriptions, and then we will dive into the topic:
- A 2-Year Conditional Green Card is the result of a Marriage based Green Card Filing, either done in the United States with a USCIS I-485 Adjustment of Status or DOS DS-260 Consular Process, and the marriage is less than 2 years old at the time of the Interview. The Condition reduces the Green Card Validity Period from 10 years to 2 years and requires an I-751 filing to remove the Condition.
- An I-90 Green Card Renewal is used to replace the 10-year “unconditioned Green Cards or to replace a lost, damaged, or stolen Green Card
Confusion about the I-90 and I-751 is common, and many Green Card Holders wind up wasting money on an Immigration Filing that does not apply to them. USCIS has attempted to resolve this issue by creating an Electronic Filing option for the I-90 filing, which would notify potential filers of this issue. However, the issue still persists with individuals filing an I-90 by paper.
Automatic Extension Letters:
Both the I-90 and I-751 now issue automatic extension letters with the receipt of the immigration filing:
- The I-90 issues a 12-month Automated Extension.
- The I-751 issues a 24-month Automated Extension.
This automation (automatic extension) was extremely helpful and remedied a big issue that required hundreds of thousands of applicants each year to venture to a local USCIS Office to request a 1-year Green Card Extension Stamp. With automation and its positive effect, comes the negative effects:
- losing the ability to speak face-to-face with a USCIS Customer Support agent who would have been able to push a applicant “down the right path” / choose the right filing
- a person’s reliance on an automated extension notice means they are assuming the filing was completed correctly and an immigration officer at USCIS must have done “some kind of verification or check” (which only takes a few seconds
The issue of Traveling Abroad:
Reliance on an Invalid Extension Letter is not a good argument. US Immigration operates on the notion that the Immigrant “should know what to properly file.” In the instance where an immigrant makes a mistake, normally they are out the I-90 filing fee. However, when travel abroad has occurred, you then find yourself in the situation of:
- believing you had a valid, unexpired Green Card / Green Card Extension Letter
- being told you cannot re-enter the US since the Green Card is normally expired (when this problem arrives)
- trying to figure out what to do next
What would be the next step?
The I-751 can be filed late and stating that an I-90 was erroneously filed is a common reason / common mistake.
The downside if abroad, the I-751 is paper-based and mailing in the form can be expensive (considering international mail fees) and time-consuming. The I-751 receipt notice can take a few weeks to arrive, and the notice would have to go to a US Address and/or someone would need to check your mail and send you a copy of the notice or the original notice in order to allow a return to the US as a Green Card Holder.
The I-751 MUST be completed since ONLY the I-751 would be able to give the 24-month extension. The I-131 Filing and a Foil would not be generally available, but it could be helpful to speak with the local US Embassy or Consulate for some guidance.
If you need assistance filing an I-751 filing, please schedule a consultation with our office, Fickey Martinez Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
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