Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman: Improving the Process for Removal of Conditions on Residence for Spouses and Children   [open pdf - 759KB]

"This review by the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (Ombudsman's Office) considers U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS's) application of section 216 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which imposes an initial two-year period of conditional residence on certain spouses and dependent children who obtain status based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR). It further establishes a detailed procedure for removing these conditions on status, which begins with the filing of a petition with fee, and extends through the appearance at any requested interview before USCIS of the petitioner(s) and/or derivatives. Since the enactment of INA section 216, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and USCIS have issued more than a dozen guidance documents related to the processing of Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751 or I-751). Only two appear on the agency's public website under the topic "conditional residence." The Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) lacks comprehensive, up-to-date information on policies and procedures associated with Form I-751 adjudications. Petitioners and their representatives find it difficult to discern which I-751 guidance remains in effect and how to ensure its proper application. USCIS adjudicators, in turn, face considerable challenges understanding and applying the universe of I-751 policies and procedures. When such guidance is misapplied, spouses and children seeking immigration benefits and services may encounter a range of undue burdens, including placement into removal proceedings. In meetings with the Ombudsman's Office, stakeholders and USCIS staff identified the following areas of concern: ineffective notice and barriers to securing information, most notably proof of status, inconsistent and inefficient adjudications, and a need for enhanced processes concerning late and/or multiple filings and referral for removal."

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United States. Dept. of Homeland Security: https://www.dhs.gov/
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