Question: I am a 2-year conditional resident. I filed Form I-751 to apply for a 10-year green card. But that was last month, and now my 2-year green card has expired. Can I still work legally in the U.S.?
Answer: Yes. If you timely filed Form I-751 to apply for a 10-year green card, your resident status will automatically be extended for 24 months after your 2-year green card’s expiration date. You will receive a letter from USCIS confirming that your status is extended by 24 months. You can use your expired green card and the USCIS receipt letter to prove you are allowed to work in the U.S. and travel outside the U.S. for up to 24 months after your green card expires.
Applying to Remove Conditions on Residence
If you apply for a marriage green card, USCIS will give you either a 2-year conditional green card or a 10-year green card. Whether you will receive a 2-year or 10-year green card depends on how long you have been married. If you have been married for at least 2 years at the time USCIS approves your green card application, you will receive a 10-year green card. If you have been married for less than 2 years at the time USCIS approves your green card application, you will receive a 2-year green card. If you receive a 2-year green card, you have to file Form I-751 to apply for a 10-year green card.
The Old Policy
Under USCIS’s old policy, if you timely filed Form I-751 to apply for a 10-year green card, USCIS would send you a notice stating that your permanent resident status is automatically extended for 18 months after the expiration date on your green card. But recently, it has taken USCIS longer than 18 months to process Form I-751.
The New Policy
Under the new policy, if you timely file Form I-751, your resident status will be extended for 24 months after your green card’s expiration date.
After you file Form I-751, you will receive a notice from USCIS that shows the date USCIS received your application, your application case number, and the statement: “Your conditional permanent resident status is extended for 24 months from the expiration date on your Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card).”
As a result, you will be allowed to work in the U.S. and travel outside the U.S. for up to 24 months after your green card’s expiration date.
USCIS Processing Delays
The reason for this policy change is that USCIS has been experiencing significant processing delays. These delays were partly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the closure of several immigration processing centers for several months in 2020. Delays have also been caused by an increased number of applications for green cards.
What do I need to do?
The extension granted by the USCIS is automatic, so you do not need to request an extension. All you need to do is make sure that you submit Form I-751 before your 2-year green card expires. Form I-751 cannot be filed any earlier than 90 days prior to the expiration of the 2-year conditional green card.
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ImmiFree.Law is The Harrison Law Firm P.C.’s online platform to make the family immigration and naturalization process more efficient, accurate, and affordable. Baya Harrison, Esq. is an attorney licensed in New York, Florida, and California. Attorney Harrison has helped numerous individuals and families navigate the U.S. immigration process, specifically family-based petitions and naturalization.