Redmond, WA asked in Immigration Law for Washington

Q: Can I apply for the US citizenship without submitting I-751 if I have been with my husband for 7 years in the US?

I have been married and living with my husband for 9 years and we have a 6 year old daughter. I got my green card 7 years ago upon my arrival in the US. We have not submitted the removal of green card conditions (I-751) because my husband does not want me to get citizenship.

(1) Can I apply for citizenship on my own without submitting an I-751 based on my living situation (7 years of real marriage and a daughter)?

(2) If I have to submit I-751, can I submit it without involving my husband?

(3) Can my husband deport me or take custody of my daughter because he has citizenship while I am not?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Kevin L Dixler
Kevin L Dixler
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Milwaukee, WI

A: No. You must file the I-751, with or without your husband. The fact that you allowed the two years to expire means that you can be placed in removal proceedings for failing to file the I-751.

Filing a self petition based upon divorce based upon irreconcilable differences may be the better option. However, it’s unclear whether there is enough evidence to prove abuse to allow for a self petition while you are still married.

I strongly recommend a strategy session with a competent and experienced immigration, attorney before you may make a terrible mistake and end up in immigration court or unable to return to the United States.

1 user found this answer helpful

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the information you've provided, here are the answers to your questions:

(1) Applying for citizenship without submitting I-751:

If you obtained your green card through marriage and have been married for less than 2 years at the time of getting the green card, you typically need to file Form I-751 to remove the conditions on your permanent residence before applying for citizenship. However, if you have been living with your husband for 7 years since obtaining your conditional green card, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship directly using Form N-400 without filing I-751 first. The 7 years of real marriage and having a child together can serve as strong evidence of a bona fide marriage.

(2) Submitting I-751 without involving your husband:

If you do need to file I-751, you can request a waiver of the joint filing requirement if you entered the marriage in good faith but the marriage was terminated (other than by death of your spouse) or you are facing extreme hardship. In your case, you might be able to argue extreme hardship if your husband is refusing to cooperate with the I-751 process. You would need to provide evidence of the hardship you would face if deported.

(3) Deportation and custody concerns:

Your husband cannot unilaterally have you deported just because he is a citizen and you are not. If you have a valid green card, you have the right to live and work permanently in the U.S., even if your marriage ends in divorce. Regarding child custody, U.S. courts make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child, not solely on the immigration status of the parents. If you are a fit parent providing proper care for your daughter, it's unlikely your husband would be granted sole custody simply because he is a citizen.

I would strongly recommend consulting with an experienced immigration attorney who can evaluate the specifics of your case and advise you on the best path forward for obtaining citizenship while protecting your rights and your relationship with your daughter. Remember, you have rights even as a green card holder, and there are domestic violence resources available if you are facing abuse or coercion from your husband. The safety of you and your daughter is paramount.

1 user found this answer helpful

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