I’ve had a few emails this week asking about I-751s and I thought doing a FAQ blog might be useful!
Q. Can I travel / renew my driver’s license / continue to work with my I-751?
A. Yes! You always want your original I-751 receipt (which also serves as your 18-month extension) with you when you do those things, but you should be able to live your life as always.
Q. What do I do when my I-751 extension is expiring and I don’t have a decision on my case?
A. You’ll need to schedule an InfoPass with USCIS and to get an I-551 (another extension) stamp in your passport. You’ll need to take your valid passport, your green card, and your I-751 receipt/extension when you go to InfoPass.
Q. How do I schedule an InfoPass appointment?
A. Call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283. It’s an automated phone system, so you’ll have to say “InfoPass” repeatedly until you get a live person. When you do get to talk with someone, explain that your extension is expiring and that you need the stamp for work purposes. We’ve learned that saying you need it to renew your driver’s license isn’t always a compelling reason to grant the appointment, but work always is.
Q. When should I call for an appointment?
A. About two weeks before your extension expires.
Q. I’m now eligible for Naturalization, but I don’t have a decision on my I-751. Can I still apply?
A. In general, yes. USCIS has changed how they handle this over the last several years, but yes, you can file the N-400 while the I-751 is pending.
Q. When I filed my I-751, I was married. But it’s taking so long and I’ve now gotten divorced. What do I do?
A. I would recommend contacting an attorney. You’ll likely not need to file a new I-751, but USCIS needs to be updated with the divorce information so they can use the right standards when they adjudicate your case.
Q. I forgot to file my I-751 before my card expired. What do I do?
A. Contact an attorney! There are ways to still get the I-751 approved and working with an attorney will help you present your case and unique circumstances in the best way possible.
Q. Why is it taking so long to get a decision on my I-751?
A. Something has to be at the bottom of the list of priorities for USCIS and this form is it. I’ve been told that it’s because people who are filing an I-751 have proof of legal status and can work and travel. USCIS would rather focus on adjudicating cases to give people legal status and the ability to work and travel. As of today, USCIS is taking about 15-17 months to adjudicate these cases.
Q. Will I have to go to an interview?
A. Maybe. If you filed a joint petition and plenty of proof of your relationship, the odds are good that a USCIS Service Center can approve your case without an interview. If you’re divorced and asking for a Good Faith Waiver, we’ve found that those cases get called in for an interview about 80% of the time.
The I-751 form seems perfectly innocent and the process seems straightforward, but looks can be deceiving!