An I-751, or a petition to remove the conditions in an immigrant’s permanent residence status, is one of the immigration cases that take so long to get approved. While the expected processing time is 18 to 24 months, some people wait over three years for their cases to be adjudicated.

What Delays the I-751 Processing Time?

How long it can take to process an I-751 petition differs on a case-to-case basis. What takes up most of the time is the interview, which is a standard part of the process. However, applicants may be able to void the interview depending on the unique facts of their case, which in turn can speed up the adjudication of their petitions.

Petitions that were filed in 2019 or prior that have not been adjudicated were most likely affected by the pandemic. During the peak of COVID-19, immigration offices also had to abide by lockdown protocols, which caused a great backlog of cases.

Permanent Residency During the Pendency of the I-751 Petition

Generally, an immigrant with U.S. permanent resident status can be confident in their permanent residency during the pendency of their I-751 petitions. Upon filing the I-751, they receive a notice extending their permanent resident status for 2 years or 24 months.

While the extension is often more than enough time for an I-751 case to be adjudicated, there can also be the possibility of the case going on for longer. In case an applicant’s permanent resident status extension is about the expire, they will need to schedule an info pass appointment to get a special stamp on their passport called an I-551.

The I-551 shows immigration that the holder is still a permanent resident of the U.S. It is usually good for 6 months to a year, securing the applicant more time to enjoy permanent residency until their I-751 petition is adjudicated.

What Lawyers Can Do if an I-751 Case is Behind Schedule

When a case is taking too long to get approved, an immigration lawyer will start a letter-writing campaign, sending follow-up letters to the immigration field office to request them to adjudicate the I-751 that is behind schedule.

When the case gets past the official processing time, the lawyer will be able to make a service request. If, after those efforts, the case still isn’t approved and goes on for much longer, an immigration attorney can reach out to a U.S. senator or representative, as well as the USCIS Ombudsman.