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CR1 Visa for Nigerians

The CR1 visa allows the foreign spouse of a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) to join their partner in the United States and start a life together. Below, you will find more information about CR1 visa requirements, the application process, and immigration procedures.

If you or your partner are interested in applying for a CR1 visa and have any questions you can call us at +23413438882 or +44 (0) 3316300929. You may also visit our local office in Lagos, Nigeria.

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    If you need support with your CR1 visa application, we can guide you through the eligibility requirements and support you along the way. Let us handle all the complexities and make your application process as stress-free as possible. Our immigration lawyers are experts in helping Nigerian citizens with their US visa petitions and will be happy to assist you too.

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    What Is the CR1 Visa?

    The CR1 visa is one of the family-based green cards available in the United States. It is available to legally wedded spouses of US citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and allows the foreign partner to immigrate into the United States and live with their spouse.

    Your green card will allow you to settle anywhere in the United States and seek employment upon arrival without first needing to apply for a work permit. Additionally, you will be able to travel internationally without the need for another visa upon re-entry into the United States. However, this trip must be shorter than one year.

    What Is Conditional Residence?

    The CR1 visa operates on a conditional residence basis, which means that for two years from your date of entry into the United States, your permanent resident status is liable to your continued relationship with your US spouse. Should you break up and divorce within this conditional period, your green card will be revoked, and you will have to leave the country.

    Once the two-year conditional period is nearing its end, you and your spouse have to petition the USCIS to remove the conditions, after which you will be granted a green card that is valid for 10 years. You must do so within 90 days of the two-year anniversary of your entry into the United States.

    The main difference to consider when deciding if you should apply for a CR1 or IR1 visa is that your relationship will need to meet different requirements. CR1 visas are available to foreign spouses of US citizens or LPRs who have been married for less than two years and are subject to the two-year condition during which you must stay together. While otherwise similar, IR1 visas are available to spouses of US citizens or LPRs who have been married for over two years and offer a green card without further conditions.

    Eligibility

    Overview

    As the CR1 visa is a family-based visa or green card, the main condition of eligibility is your relationship with your US-based partner. You will only qualify for a CR1 US visa if you are legally married to your spouse, and if your spouse fulfils sponsor requirements. Sharing a home or being in an unofficial partnership will not be enough to qualify you for a CR1 visa.

    You need to meet the following conditions:

    • Be lawfully married to a US citizen or LPR
    • Be able to prove your spouse’s financial capability to act as your sponsor
    • Be able to provide evidence of your spouse’s US domicile or intent to return

    During your application process, you and your spouse will be asked to provide adequate proof of your marriage and ongoing relationship. Examples of proof may include your wedding certificate, as well as additional evidence of your shared time together such as photographs from your engagement or wedding, and flight itineraries, among other options.

    If you or your spouse have previously been married, you will also need to show proof that these relationships have been fully terminated. In cases of polygamy, only the first spouse will be able to qualify for a CR1 visa.

    Ineligibility

    You will be ineligible for a CR1 visa if you do not fulfil your relationship requirements, are unable to prove your marriage or if your spouse fails to meet sponsor requirements.

    Additionally, you will be ineligible for a US CR1 visa if you have been previously engaged in criminal activities such as drug trafficking, have previously overstayed a visa, or if you are found to have provided fraudulent documents for your current application or past ones.

    Should you be facing such hurdles, you will generally be informed that you are ineligible and why. You may be able to apply for a waiver of the ineligibility.

    Navigating US visa applications can be challenging if you are faced with potential ineligibility. Consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer who is familiar with US visa applications for Nigerian citizens may make this process much easier for you.

    If you need help due to ineligibility or any other reasons you can contact IAS today by calling our Nigerian office at +23413438882 or +44 (0) 3316300929. You may also visit us at our local office in Lagos.

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      Your Sponsor

      The sponsor is the person who pledges financial support to the foreign immigrant. In the case of a CR1 visa, this will be your US-based spouse. They will have to either be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR), though it needs to be noted that your application may take a lot longer if your sponsor is an LPR.

      At a glance, your sponsor must:

      • Be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR)
      • Be lawfully married to you, the foreign spouse
      • Be 18 years or older
      • Have US domicile or show proof of intention
      • Show sufficient financial means to support you

      The US-based partner will file the initial Petition for Alien Relative for a CR1 visa application, establishing their relationship with the foreign spouse. You have to be lawfully married and have proof of the authenticity of your marriage and ongoing relationship. Possible evidence includes your marriage certificate, as well as photographs from your time together, flight itineraries, or other documents related to your marriage.

      US Domicile

      Your sponsor will also need to have domicile (residence) in the United States or show proof of their intention to return to the United States with you. If they have been abroad for over two years, the National Visa Center (NVC) may ask for proof that this was temporary.

      Possible evidence of established domicile includes:

      • Owned or rented property in the US
      • A permanent US mailing address
      • US tax or voting records in the US
      • US banking or investing accounts
      • Proof of temporary study, employment, or otherwise authorised stay abroad.

      Your sponsor may show intent to establish US domicile by:

      • Seeking employment in the US
      • Seeking property to rent or buy in the US
      • Applying for a Social Security Number
      • Opening a US bank account
      • Transferring money to their US bank account
      • Registering their children in a US school
      • Voting in US elections (local, state, or federal)

      Financial Support

      As your sponsor, your spouse will also need to pledge to financially support you with an Affidavit of Support. While there is no minimum age requirement for the initial petition, they have to be at least 18 years old to file the Affidavit of Support for you. During this, they must provide evidence of sufficient financial means to support the foreign spouse and themselves at 125% of the federal poverty level.

      Joint Sponsors

      If your sponsor doesn’t meet the financial requirements to support the foreign spouse, you might need to apply under joint sponsorship. This means that your spouse needs to find a financial co-sponsor who is willing and able to take on the legal obligation to financially support you should it come to a situation where you need to be supported and your main sponsor is unable to do so fully.

      There is no specific rule as to who may become a financial co-sponsor for your CR1 visa application, but they need to be a US citizen or green card holder (lawful permanent resident).

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        If Your Sponsor Was an LPR and Is Now a US Citizen

        If your sponsor filed your Petition for Alien Relatives when they were a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and have since become a US citizen, they should apply to upgrade your petition. To do so, they need to send proof of their status change to the NVC.

        Proof includes:

        • A copy of your certificate of naturalisation
        • A copy of the biodata page in their US passport

        Application Process

        Overview

        To start an application for a CR1 visa, your US spouse will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives with the US Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS). This form establishes the relationship between the US citizen and or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and their foreign spouse who wishes to join them in the United States on a CR1 visa.

        Your sponsor will have to pay the $535 processing fee for this petition.

        When the Petition for Alien Relatives has been approved, you will be assigned a case number by the National Visa Center (NVC). You may now file Form DS-260, which is your Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. This can be done online, where you will give details about yourself and the reason for your application for a US CR1 visa. Make sure to save the confirmation page and number once you are finished.

        Don’t forget to pay the $325 Form DS-260 processing fee. Once this payment has been processed, you will then be asked to submit your immigrant visa documents, such as the Affidavit of Support (AOS) filed by your spouse, and your application forms, your civil documents, among others.

        Medical Exam

        You will also need to undergo a medical examination and provide completed Medical Examination Forms. This process may include required vaccinations for entry to the United States.

        This examination must be carried out by an authorised panel physician, which will be specified by the NVC. Should you attend a medical examination elsewhere, your documents will not be accepted.

        Your results may be sent directly to the embassy or given to you in a sealed envelope which you must not open but bring to your CR1 visa interview.

        The Visa Interview

        When you have submitted all required documents and payments, the National Visa Center (NVC) will schedule your visa interview and send your application file to the US Embassy in Abuja or US Consulate General in Lagos.

        Questions during your interview may ask you to provide details about your spouse and your relationship, specifics of your marriage or proposal, as well as your spouse’s life and work. You may also be asked about your plans for travelling to the United States, your intentions there, and about involvement with criminal activity of either you or your spouse.

        The purpose of this interview is to assess your eligibility for a CR1 visa and whether the details you have so far provided are accurate.

        You will usually also need to provide digital fingerprint scans which will be taken at the time of your interview.

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          Documents

          You will need the following documents for a successful CR1 visa application:

          • Form I-130 (filed by your sponsor)
          • Affidavit of Support (filed by sponsor)
          • Form DS-260 (application for an immigrant visa)
          • Proof of fee payments
          • Medical examination forms
          • Passport (valid for at least six months after the intended immigration date)
          • Proof of marriage (marriage certificate, plus additional proof such as photos together or flight itineraries)
          • Proof of end of any previous marriages of applicant and sponsor
          • Proof of spouse’s US domicile (permanent residence) or intention to establish domicile.
          • Cover letter
          • Two US passport-style photographs

          Fees and Timeline

          Throughout the application process you or your sponsor will need to pay the following fees:

          • $535 Form I-130 processing fee, to be paid by your sponsor
          • $325 Form DS-260 processing fee
          • Varying medical examination fee
          • $220 USCIS Immigrant Fee to be paid after you receive your visa and before you travel to the United States

          These fees are payable for each visa applicant, including any children applying under a CR2 visa. They are not refundable.

          The timeline for CR1 application varies and largely depends on your embassy’s current workload, as well as the status of your US spouse. Petitions associated with a US citizen tend to take less than a year. If your spouse is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) in the United States, then your petition may take longer than that.

          After Your Visa Is Approved

          Overview

          You will be given your passport containing your immigrant visa. You will also receive your sealed immigrant visa packet that contains the documents you provided during your application. This packet should only be opened by the immigration official before you enter the United States.

          You have to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee of $ 220 to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. To pay you will need your Alien Number (A-Number) and Department of State (DOS) Case ID, which you will receive along with your USCIS Immigrant Fee handout.

          Entering the US: Port-of-Entry

          When you have been approved for your CR1 visa, you will need to enter the United States before its date of expiry. You may now travel to a US port of entry and request permission to enter the United States.

          You should note that a visa does not offer guaranteed entry. Instead, you will need to be permitted by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official when arriving.

          To make this part easier, make sure that you come prepared with the following documents:

          • Valid passport (for at least six months from your date of entry)
          • Valid CR1 visa
          • Sealed immigration visa packet
          • Completed US customs declaration
          • Details of the address you are planning to stay

          Your permanent resident card, Form I-551 will be mailed to the address you provided on your application form once you have legally entered the US. This is your green card.

          You will now be able to apply for a Social Security Card. If you elected to receive one on your visa application, it will be sent to you automatically after you have entered the US. This may take around six weeks.

          Children of CR1 Spousal Visa (CR2 Visa)

          If you have any children with your spouse or from other partners, they might be eligible for a CR2 visa if they were less than 19 years old at the point of your marriage and are under 21 years old at the intended date of entering the United States.

          Children might be biologically related to the US parent, stepchildren, or legally adopted. You will need to provide proof of this relationship.

          Applications for CR2 visas are usually filed together with a CR1 visa application for their parent. The sponsor will need to file a separate Form I-130 petition for each child. It should be noted that petitions to sponsor step-children may take significantly longer when filed by a lawful permanent resident than by a US citizen.

          The needed documents are mostly the same as that for CR1 visa applications.

          How Can IAS Help?

          Filing for a CR1 visa petition can be a stressful and long-winded process. Seeking support from an experienced immigration lawyer can alleviate some of the pressure while you navigate the process of applying for your US visa. We can:

          • Help you find the best visa option for you and your family
          • Ensure your documents are complete and filled out correctly
          • Help you prepare for your visa interview
          • Assess the need for potential waivers or alternative visas if you have previously been rejected

          You can visit our local office in Lagos, Nigeria, or call us today at +23413438882 or +44 (0) 3316300929 to learn more about how we might support you on your path to a US visa.

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                    FAQ

                    The CR1 visa is a conditional resident visa while the IR1 spouse visa is an immediate relative visa. While very similar, the CR1 visa is for couples who have been married for less than two years and is subject to a two-year conditional period during which the couple must remain married. The IR1 visa is for couples who have been married for over two years. When the CR1 conditional period has ended it will need to be changed to the IR1 visa.

                    You may be eligible for a CR1 visa as long as your spouse can establish domicile in the United States. While this usually means residence, it is still possible if they can provide proof that they were living abroad on a temporary basis due to employment or studies. Alternatively, your spouse will need to prove their intention of moving back to the United States.

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