Navigating the IR6 Green Card Process: A Guide for Spouses of U.S. Citizens

What Is the IR6 Green Card?

Marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the most common paths to becoming a permanent resident (green card holder) in the U.S.

There are different classes of marriage green cards for spouses of U.S. citizens. If you are a foreign national married to a U.S. citizen, identifying and understanding the fundamentals of the green card class that applies to your case is crucial as that determines the specific marriage green card application procedure you must follow.

The IR6 green card is one of the marriage-based green card classes specifically designed for foreign spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married for over two years and are physically present in the U.S. Those who qualify for this green card can transition from their current immigration status while in the U.S. into lawful permanent residents without having to return to their home country when their current visa expires.

But the IR6 application process, like several other immigration procedures in the U.S., could be difficult to navigate without legal guidance. That’s where we come in.

At the JQK Immigration Law Firm, we know how important it is for you and your spouse to remain together despite the hurdles posed by the immigration system. We are here to guide you through the process and ensure that your IR6 application experience is as smooth as possible.

Below, we explain the eligibility criteria for this type of green card and the basics of the application process to keep you informed and help you self-assess your eligibility. We look forward to answering any questions you might have afterward.

How the IR6 Green Card Works

Individuals who entered the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa, such as a student visa, must abide by their visa conditions, one of which is that they must leave the U.S. once their visa expires.

But if they are married to a U.S. citizen, they do not have to leave the U.S. if their visa expires after marriage. Before the visa expires, they can apply to become lawful permanent residents through the adjustment of status process, transition into lawful permanent resident status, and enjoy all the perks of their new immigration status.

However, there’s a catch. Newly wedded foreign spouses and those who have been married for less than two years (when they become permanent residents) can only be granted conditional permanent resident status (via the CR6 green card).

Conditional green cards are valid for only two years. The conditional green card holder must apply for the conditions on their green card to be lifted before the two years expire. Otherwise, they could lose their immigration status and become subject to removal from the U.S.

The IR6 green card category has no such restrictions. It is designed exclusively for the foreign spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married for longer than two years.

An IR6 green cardholder can live and work in the United States permanently, subject to a green card renewal every ten years. They may also be eligible for naturalization after three years of becoming permanent residents as against the five-year rule, making it one of the quickest routes to U.S. citizenship.

IR6 Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for an IR6 green card, you must meet certain requirements. They include the following:

  • Your marriage to your U.S. citizen spouse must be legal and valid under U.S. law or the law of the place where the marriage was conducted.
  • You must have been married for at least two years.
  • Your marriage must be genuine or authentic.
  • You must be physically present in the U.S., and your entry must have been lawful.
  •  There are no other legal barriers or conditions against your immigration.

The IR6 Application Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

The steps in the IR6 application process can be summarized as follows:

  1. File the Immigrant Petition: Like other family-based immigration applications, the IR6 process begins when your spouse files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf.
  2. File Form I-485 to Adjust Your Status: Generally, Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is filed after the applicant receives Form I-130 approval. However, because you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can file both forms at the same time. This is known as concurrent filing.
  3. Attend Your Biometrics Appointment and Green Card Interview: Once the USCIS receives your application, they will notify you and subsequently schedule you for a biometrics appointment. You may also be scheduled for an interview. You must attend both appointments; otherwise, you risk your application being denied.
  4. Receive a Decision: Once the USCIS has all the information they need, they’ll process your application, and you’ll be notified once they reach a decision. If your application is successful, you’ll get your IR6 green card in the mail. If your application is denied, the USCIS will state the reasons for the denial and inform you on whether you can appeal the decision. But adjustment of status applications generally can’t be appealed.There are ways to get the USCIS to reconsider their decision, but they involve further expenses and legal complexities. That’s why it is important to do all you can to avoid a denial in the first place.

These steps are a simplified version of the IR6 process. In reality, IR6 applications are mostly more complex and could take months to complete. Completing your application forms accurately is a good way to minimize complications and ensure the processing time is not overly prolonged.

Required Documents for IR6 Applications

Your IR6 application forms must be submitted with certain documents that authenticate the details in the forms and make your case more credible. They include the following 

  • Your marriage certificate
  • Your birth certificate
  • Proof of your spouse’s U.S. citizenship
  • Evidence that any previous marriage for you or your spouse has been terminated
  • Proof that your marriage is authentic, such as joint bank account statements 

One of the most common reasons for IR6 denials is insufficient documentation. Our Green Card Lawyers can help you avoid that by creating a tailored checklist of required documents early on. Doing so provides clarity and gives you time to gather the documents required beforehand to minimize pressure.

Common Challenges and Solutions

In our years of immigration law practice at the JQK Immigration Law Firm, we’ve seen a few hurdles that can catch couples/applicants off guard during the IR6 application process. They include the following. 

Divorce During the Application Process

IR6 green cards are meant for spouses of U.S. citizens in an ongoing marriage. If divorce enters the picture, your eligibility for this green card could be affected.

But there are alternative pathways to permanent residence you can explore depending on your circumstances. We can assist you by reviewing your case and advising on the best strategy to help you move forward.

Marriage Fraud

An IR6 green card is issued based on a legitimate marriage, not fraudulent marriages contracted for immigration purposes. As such, the immigration authorities deeply scrutinize IR6 applications to ensure that everything checks out before approval. The downside to this scrutiny is that a mistake or discrepancy in an IR6 application can be interpreted as marriage fraud, leading to a denial and, in extreme cases, criminal charges.

Our proactive approach to this challenge is to ensure that our IR6 clients and their spouses submit error-free forms with the right supporting documents and they are well-prepared for the green card interview. That way, there won’t be any discrepancies in the documentation or the answers given during the interview that could affect their chances of success. 

Contact the JQK Immigration Law Firm for Help

The IR6 green card is a quick route to permanent residency and eventually U.S. citizenship for certain foreign spouses of U.S. citizens who are physically present in the U.S. However, the application process is complex, and there are several requirements and hurdles that applicants and their spouses must overcome to obtain this valuable document.

Our skilled immigration lawyers at the JQK Immigration Law Firm are prepared to help you navigate the complicated process with ease and confidence so you can focus on building a life with your spouse in the U.S. 

We’re here to hold your hand through your immigration journey because your future is our priority. Contact us today if you want our help beginning the process or if you have further questions. We’d gladly assess your case and help you chart a course toward the future you deserve.

We look forward to helping you get started.

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