CR1 and IR1 Marriage Visas
What is a Marriage Visa?
A Marriage Visa is an immigration visa that allows the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen or U.S. Legal Resident to legally immigrate to the United States. There are two types of marriage visas–the CR1 Marriage Visa and the IR1 Marriage Visa.
Basic Information Regarding the CR1 and IR1 Marriage Visas
CR1 and IR1 marriage visas are for U.S. citizens that want to bring their foreign spouse into the United States.
Difference Between the CR1 and IR1 Marriage Visas
The difference between a CR1 visa and IR1 marriage visa depends on how long the couple has been married. If the couple has been married for less than two years, the foreign spouse will receive a CR1 visa. If the couple has been married for more than two years, the foreign spouse will receive an IR1 visa.
The CR1 marriage visa is known as a Conditional Resident visa and grants a foreign spouse conditional permanent residency. Foreign spouses that receive a CR1 visa can typically work in the U.S. within a matter of months as soon as they receive their green card. Since permanent status is considered conditional, the newly married couple must apply to remove conditional status jointly to prove that the foreign spouse did not get married to U.S. citizen merely for the green card. This must be done before the two-year visa expires and so it is recommended that the couple starts the process ninety days prior to the visa expiration.
The Ir1 (Immediate Relative) visa is issued to foreign spouses who have been married to a U.S. citizen for a period longer than two years. The IR1 visa is very similar to the CR1 visa with the primary difference being that an IR1 visa recipient will be given unconditional permanent resident status and be able to work immediately upon their arrival to the country.
Requirements of the U.S. Petitioner
In order to apply for a CR1 or IR1 marriage visa, a foreign citizen must be legally married to a U.S. citizen. Living together is not the same as actually being married and the USCIS will almost never recognize a “common law marriage”. You need to be actually married!
The U.S. petitioner must be an adult who is financially capable of supporting the foreign spouse if they cannot prove that he/she will be able to financially support themselves once they immigrate to the U.S. The petitioner must also a resident of the United States so they are able to file a Form I-130.
The CR1 / IR1 Visa Process
The first step in the CR1 / IR1 marriage visa application process is filing a Petition for Alien Relative a.k.a. Form I-130. The Form I-130 is filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by the U.S. Petitioner for his/her spouse . Below is a list of some items that may be required by USCIS with Form I-130:
- Payment of all fees
- Petition for Alien Relative
- A copy of the U.S. citizen’s birth certificate or a copy of all the pages of his/her passport.
- A copy of the marriage certificate
- Documentation that shows any previous marriage have been legally terminated.
- Evidence of a legitimate marriage. Some examples of evidence to prove a legitimate marriage:
- Joint Bank Accounts
- Transfer of money between the two accounts
- Joint Credit Card Accounts
- Joint Ownership of Real Estate
- Both names on the property insurance
- Joint Ownership of Personal Property
- Both names on car insurance
- Proof of Ongoing Contact, such as:
- Phone records between the petitioner / beneficiary
- Emails between the petitioner / beneficiary
- Pictures / Videos
- Pictures and videos of the actual wedding
- Pictures and videos of time spent together
National Visa Center
After USCIS processes and approves your petition, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The National Visa Center collects forms and fees for U.S. Embassies and Consulates from across the world. The NVC will begin processing the petition once all fees have been paid and will also send out a packet detailing the various forms and documents that will have to be produced. Some of the documents that may be required:
- A valid passport
- Affidavit of Support- Form I-864
- Application for immigrant visa and Alien Registration- Form I-485
- Completed medical examination forms
- Two 2 x 2″ photographs
- Military Records
- Birth Certificate
- Court and prison records
Interview with the National Visa Center
Once the NVC has determined that all required documents have been submitted they will schedule an interview with the foreign spouse to determine if the visa will be granted. The file containing all of the documents will be forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to the foreign spouse. Instructions on how to complete the required medical examination will also be sent to the applicant at this time. The medical examination must be performed by an approved doctor. The NVC will provide the foreign spouse a list of approved doctors.
Additionally the foreign spouse must have received certain vaccinations. Some of the vaccinations that are required are: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Influenza, Pertussis, Meningococcal, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus, Polio, Rubella, Varicella and Tetanus. The foreign spouse must have documentation proving they have received these vaccinations.
At the visa interview the foreign spouse must provide their passport and any other documents the NVC has asked for that have not already been submitted. Additionally, finger prints will be taken. It is at the visa interview with the NVC that the CR1 or IR1 marriage visa will be granted or denied.
Marriage Visa Approval
If the marriage visa application is approved, the visa applicant will receive their passport along with an immigrant visa and a sealed package containing the documents that the visa applicant has provided during the process. The visa is typically granted for a period of six months and the visa applicant must travel to the U.S. within that time frame or the process will have to be started all over. The sealed package is to remain sealed until the visa applicant presents it to a U.S. immigration officer at a U.S. Port of Entry. A visa only allows a foreign citizen to travel to a United States Port of Entry and request permission to enter but ultimately it is up to the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether or not entry to the Country will be granted.
How Long Does the CR1 / IR1 Marriage Visa Application Process Take?
Typically, it takes between 8 and 10 months for a marriage visa to be approved. However, the amount of time it takes to process a marriage visa can vary from country to country. The time will be drastically increased if there are mistakes with the application itself.
Let immigration attorney Clint S. Dunaway help you obtain a marriage visa. Call us at: 480-344-4035 to set up a consultation.