What is the IR1/CR1 visa?
The Spouse or Marriage Green Card, commonly known as the IR1/CR1 visa, is a type of family-based green card that falls under the immediate relative category. It is meant for non-US nationals who are lawfully wed to US citizens. It allows them to come to the United States to join their spouses and settle there as permanent residents.
There are two types of Wedding Green Card:
- For foreign nationals who have been married to a US citizen for at least two years, there is a visa called the IR1.
- The CR1 visa – designed for foreign spouses who have recently married a US citizen. The pair must stay married for a minimum of two years in order to receive the CR1 visa.
- Those in the United States on the CR1 visa can switch to the IR1 visa after being married to a U.S. citizen for at least two years. On the other hand, you will forfeit your status and be required to return home if you are granted a CR1 visa and divorce before the two-year period has elapsed.
What are the requirements for the IR1 visa?
If you want to apply for the IR1 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be legally married. To prove this you will need to provide a marriage certificate. Additionally, you must provide proof that you and your partner have been living together.
- I have been married to an American citizen for at least two years.
- Be married to a person who is a US citizen and has a valid US address.
- Get married to a U.S. citizen who has sufficient finances to support you after you arrive in the United States.
Immigration officials will assess whether or not your connection is genuine during the visa application procedure. If you are found to have committed marriage fraud, you will be removed from the United States and may have problems applying for U.S. visas in the future.
What are the requirements for the CR1 visa?
The CR1 and IR1 visa requirements are nearly identical. The only difference is that you do not have to be married to a US citizen for at least two years.
If you meet most of the requirements for the IR1 visa but have only recently married, you can apply for the CR1 visa and become a conditional resident of the United States. If your application for the CR1 visa is successful, you will be able to come to the United States to live with your spouse and will enjoy all the benefits that permanent residents of the United States enjoy.
After two years, you will have to prove that you remain married and will be able to upgrade to the IR1 Green Card and remain in the United States permanently. However, if your marriage ends before you reach two years of marriage, you will lose your visa and will not be able to stay in the United States.
What supporting documents do I need to include for the IR1/CR1 visa?
To prove your eligibility for the IR1/CR1 visa, you must include a number of supporting documents in your application. These include:
- Passport valid for at least six months after intended entry into the United States
- Documents, such as a marriage certificate, that show that you are legally married to a U.S. citizen
- Affidavit of support signed by US spouse
- DS-260 form confirmation page
- Proof that you have had a medical examination and obtained all required vaccines
- Two passport-sized photographs
- Proof that you have no criminal record
- documentation pertaining to your military service.
How to apply for the IR1/CR1 visa?
The U.S. citizen must first fill out Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives, and send it to USCIS in order to start the IR1/CR1 visa application procedure. As a foreign national, you can proceed with the application process at any U.S. embassy or consulate in your place of residence after your petition is granted.
The first thing you need to do is fill out Form DS-260, Electronic Immigrant Visa Application. In the form, you will need to provide information about your background and the purpose of your immigration to the United States. After submitting the form, you will see a confirmation page which you will need to keep and bring with you to the visa interview at a later stage in the application process.
You must then complete a medical exam and obtain all required vaccines. You must also complete a file of documents that includes evidence proving your eligibility for the visa.
Once you have all the required documents, you will be able to schedule and subsequently attend the visa interview. During the interview, an immigration officer will ask you questions to assess whether you meet the visa requirements.
What happens after a US citizen files a petition for foreign relatives?
The IR1/CR1 application process begins with the U.S. citizen filing the Foreign Spouse Application with USCIS. The petition will be reviewed within a few months and the US citizen will be notified with a decision.
If the petition is denied, the US citizen will be notified of the reason. If the petition is approved, it will go to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will send a package with instructions to the foreign applicant.
The foreign national can then complete the application at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their nation of origin after that.
What is the waiting time and cost of the IR1/CR1 visa?
The IR1/CR1 visa belongs to the immediately relevant category of US family cards. This means there is no limit to the number of people who can receive it each year. As a result, the waiting time for the IR1/CR1 visa is much shorter than for some visas that belong to the Family Preference category, for example, the F2A visa or the F3 visa. Most IR1/CR1 visa applications are processed within eight to ten months.
Regarding the cost, people applying for the IR1/CR1 visa need to pay the following fees:
- $535 to process Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives
- $325 for processing the DS-260 form
- Fees for medical visits and vaccinations
- USCIS immigration fee of $220 (if your visa application is successful).
Additionally, you may have to pay fees for translating documents that are not in English.
What to expect during the IR1/CR1 visa interview?
If the NVC determines that you have submitted all required documents, you will be invited to attend a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. A visa interview is an important step in the application process for most US visas. Typically, all applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must attend one.
During the interview you will be asked questions about your personal situation and your relationship. The objective of the interview is to assess whether you meet the eligibility criteria for the IR1/CR1 visa and whether your marriage is genuine. It is important that you answer all questions truthfully as lying may lead to your visa application being rejected.
If an immigration officer is satisfied with what you say during the interview, you will receive the IR1/CR1 visa and can start preparing for your trip to the United States.
What is the difference between the IR1/CR1 visa and the K3 visa?
The K3 visa is also intended for foreign spouses of US citizens. However, while the IR1/CR1 visa allows foreign nationals to come to the United States as permanent citizens, the K3 visa is a non-immigrant permit. This means that those who come to the United States on the K3 visa can only stay there for a limited period of time. The K3 visa is valid for two years and during this period K3 visa holders cannot apply for a different non-immigrant visa.
Additionally, in order to work in the United States with the K3 visa, foreign citizens must apply for a work permit after arriving. Those who receive the IR1/CR1, however, automatically obtain the right to work in the USA.
The K3 visa processing usually takes six to nine months, so the waiting time is similar to the waiting time for the Marriage Green Card. This is why it is usually recommended to apply for the IR1/CR1 visa instead of the K3 visa.
If you are unsure which visa to apply for, contact our immigration lawyers. They will assess your suitability for the IR1/CR1 visa, as well as the K3 visa and advise you which is best for you.
Can a CR1 visa holder work?
Yes, if you get the CR1 visa holder you will enjoy the benefits that US permanent residents enjoy. However, your status will be conditional and you will need to remain married to a U.S. citizen for at least two years to maintain your status and be able to remain in the United States permanently.
Can I travel outside the United States while on the IR1/CR1 visa?
Those arriving in the United States on the IR1/CR1 visa can travel freely out of the country and return without having to reapply for a visa. There are no limits on the number of times they can leave and re-enter the United States.
What distinguishes the CR1 visa from the IR1 visa?
If the couple has been married for less than two years at the time of applying for the Marriage Green Card, the foreign spouse receives the CR1 visa. If the couple has been married for more than two years, the foreign spouse is granted the IR1 visa.
While IR1 visa recipients can remain in the United States indefinitely, CR1 visa holders enjoy conditional permanent residency. If they divorce within two years of arriving in the United States, they lose their status and must leave the country. However, if they remain married for at least two years they can switch to the IR1 visa.
What is better, the K3 visa or the CR1 visa?
The K3 visa is a nonimmigrant permit that allows successful applicants to remain in the United States for two years. After that, foreign nationals will need to leave the United States or apply for a different permit if they wish to remain in the country. The CR1 visa, on the other hand, is an immigrant so it can lead to permanent residency in the United States. This is why the CR1 visa is the recommended route.