What is an IR-1/CR-1 visa?
An IR-1 (Immediate Relative) visa and a CR-1 (Conditional Resident) visa are both types of immigrant visas issued by the United States to foreign spouses of U.S. citizens. These visas allow the foreign spouse to immigrate to the U.S. and eventually obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, also known as a green card.
The main difference between the IR-1 and CR-1 visas lies in the timing of when the green card holder obtains full permanent resident status:
- IR-1 Visa (Immediate Relative – Unconditional): This visa is issued to foreign spouses who have been married to a U.S. citizen for at least two years at the time of the visa application. The key advantage of the IR-1 visa is that the foreign spouse is granted unconditional permanent resident status upon arrival in the United States. This means that they receive a 10-year green card without any conditions or requirements for further applications.
- CR-1 Visa (Conditional Resident – Conditional): This visa is issued to foreign spouses who have been married to a U.S. citizen for less than two years at the time of the visa application. When the foreign spouse enters the U.S., they are granted conditional permanent resident status, which means they receive a 2-year conditional green card. During the 90-day period before the expiration of the conditional green card, the couple must jointly apply to remove the conditions by demonstrating that their marriage is genuine and continuing. If successful, the conditional status is removed, and the foreign spouse becomes a full permanent resident.
Both IR-1 and CR-1 visas require a thorough application process, including submitting forms, documentation, undergoing background checks, and attending interviews. The goal of these visas is to facilitate the reunification of spouses by allowing the foreign spouse to legally reside and work in the U.S. while pursuing permanent resident status.
It’s important to note that immigration policies and procedures can change, so it’s recommended to consult official U.S. government sources or legal experts for the most up-to-date information on IR-1 and CR-1 visas.
How to apply for an IR-1/CR-1 visa?
Applying for an IR-1/CR-1 visa involves several steps, including gathering required documents, completing forms, attending an interview, and going through a medical examination. Here’s a general overview of the process:
- Petition Filing by the U.S. Citizen:
- The first step is for the U.S. citizen spouse to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- This form establishes the relationship between the U.S. citizen and the foreign spouse and serves as a request for the visa.
- USCIS Processing:
- After the I-130 petition is approved, USCIS sends a Notice of Approval (I-797) to the U.S. citizen petitioner.
- The approved petition is then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.
- NVC Processing:
- The NVC provides instructions to the U.S. citizen petitioner for submitting additional documentation and processing fees.
- The foreign spouse must complete Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application, and provide various supporting documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, police clearances, and more.
- Affidavit of Support:
- The U.S. citizen petitioner must also submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to demonstrate financial sponsorship and ensure the foreign spouse won’t become a public charge in the U.S.
- Medical Examination:
- The foreign spouse must undergo a medical examination by an approved panel physician to ensure they meet health requirements for U.S. entry.
- Interview Scheduling:
- Once the NVC determines that all required documents are submitted and fees are paid, they will schedule an immigrant visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign spouse’s home country.
- Visa Interview:
- The foreign spouse attends the visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
- During the interview, the consular officer assesses the authenticity of the relationship, the eligibility of the foreign spouse, and other relevant factors.
- Visa Issuance:
- If approved, the consular officer will issue the IR-1 or CR-1 visa to the foreign spouse, which will be placed in their passport.
- Travel to the U.S.:
- The foreign spouse can travel to the U.S. with the issued visa.
- Upon entry, they will go through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspection process at the port of entry.
- Adjustment of Status (if applicable):
- If the foreign spouse entered the U.S. on a CR-1 visa, they will need to apply to remove the conditions on their green card within the 90-day period before the conditional green card expires.
It’s important to follow the specific instructions provided by USCIS, NVC, and the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign spouse’s country. Requirements and procedures can vary based on individual circumstances and any updates to immigration policies. Consulting with an immigration attorney or utilizing official government resources can help ensure a smooth and successful application process.
IR-1/CR-1 checklist of required documents
While the exact checklist of required documents may vary based on individual circumstances and the specific U.S. embassy or consulate where the visa interview will take place, here’s a general checklist of documents commonly required for an IR-1 or CR-1 visa application:
- Petition and Application Documents:
- Copy of the approved Form I-130 (Notice of Approval, I-797) from USCIS.
- Confirmation page of the online DS-260 form (Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application).
- Passport and Photographs:
- Valid passport for the foreign spouse (and any dependent children).
- Passport-style photographs that meet the specifications outlined by the U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Civil Documents:
- Original or certified copy of the foreign spouse’s birth certificate.
- Original or certified copy of the marriage certificate.
- Divorce or death certificates, if applicable, to establish the termination of any previous marriages.
- Police Certificates:
- Police clearances or certificates of no criminal record from all countries where the foreign spouse has lived for a certain period of time, as specified by the U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Medical Examination:
- Results of the medical examination conducted by an approved panel physician.
- Affidavit of Support:
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, completed by the U.S. citizen petitioner.
- Proof of the U.S. citizen petitioner’s financial ability to support the foreign spouse, such as tax returns, pay stubs, and employment verification.
- Proof of Relationship:
- Evidence demonstrating the authenticity of the marital relationship, such as photographs, correspondence, joint financial documents, and any other relevant proof of shared life together.
- Visa Fees:
- Receipts or evidence of payment for visa application and processing fees.
- Other Supporting Documents:
- Any additional documents requested by the U.S. embassy or consulate, as specified in their instructions.
It’s important to carefully review the specific requirements provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate where the visa interview will take place. These requirements can vary from one location to another, and the embassy or consulate’s website will usually provide detailed instructions on what documents are needed and how they should be presented.
Additionally, consider reaching out to an immigration attorney or consulting official U.S. government resources to ensure that you have a complete and accurate set of documents for your IR-1 or CR-1 visa application.