What is the IR1/CR1 Visa?
The IR1/CR1 Visa, also known as the Spouse Green Card or the Marriage Green Card, belongs to the immediate relative category of Family Based Green Cards. It is intended for foreign citizens who are legally married to US citizens. It allows them to come to the US to join their spouses and settle there as permanent residents.
There are two kinds of Marriage Green Card:
- The IR1 Visa – designed for foreign citizens who have been married to a US citizen for at least two years.
- The CR1 Visa – designed for foreign spouses who have recently gotten married to a US citizen. The CR1 Visa is granted on the condition that the couple remains married for at least two years.
Those who are in the US on the CR1 Visa can change to the IR1 Visa after being married to a US citizen for at least two years. However, if you receive the CR1 Visa and you get divorced before two years have passed, you will lose your status and will have to return to your home country.
What are the requirements for the IR1 Visa?
If you want to apply for the IR1 Visa, you have to meet the following requirements:
- Be legally married. To prove it you will have to provide a marriage certificate. Moreover, you have to provide evidence that you and your partner have been living together.
- Have been married to a US citizen for at least two years.
- Be married to a person who is a US citizen and has a valid address within the US.
- Be married to a US citizen who has enough finances to support you after you arrive in the US.
When you go through the visa application process, immigration officials will determine whether your relationship is not a sham marriage. If you are found to have committed marriage fraud, you will be removed from the US and you might face problems applying for US visas in the future.
What are the requirements for the CR1 Visa?
The requirements for the CR1 Visa are almost the same as for the IR1 Visa. The only difference is that you do not have to have been married to a US citizen for at least two years.
If you meet most of the requirements for the IR1 Visa but you only got married recently, you can apply for the CR1 Visa and become a conditional resident in the US. If your application for the CR1 Visa is successful, you will be able to come to the US to live with your spouse and you will enjoy all the benefits that permanent residents in the US have.
After two years, you will have to prove that you remain married and you will be able to transition to the IR1 Green Card and stay in the US permanently. Nevertheless, if your marriage ends before you reach the two years of being married, you will lose your visa and you will not be able to stay in the US.
How to apply for the IR1/CR1 Visa?
The application process for the IR1/CR1 Visa starts with the US citizen filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives and submitting it to USCIS. Once the petition is approved, you, as the foreign citizen, can continue the application process at a US Embassy or Consulate in your home country.
The first thing you need to do is file Form DS-160, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application. In the form, you will have to provide information about your background and the purpose of your immigration to the US. After you submit the form, you will see a confirmation page that you need to keep and bring to the visa interview with you at a later stage of the application process.
Then, you need to complete a medical examination and get all the required vaccines. You also have to compile a document file that includes evidence proving your eligibility for the visa.
When you have all the required documents, you can schedule and later attend your visa interview. During the interview, an immigration official will ask you questions to assess whether you meet the requirements for the visa.
What happens after US citizen files Petition for Alien Relatives?
The application process for the IR1/CR1 starts with the US citizen submitting the petition for their foreign spouse to USCIS. The petition will be processed within a few months and the US citizen will receive a notification with a decision.
If the petition is rejected, the US citizen will be told the reason for it. If the petition is approved, it will move to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will send a package with instructions to the foreign applicant.
After that, the foreign citizen can proceed with the application at a US Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
What supporting documents do I need to include for the IR1/CR1 Visa?
To prove your eligibility for the IR1/CR1 Visa, you need to include a number of supporting documents in your application. These include:
- Passport valid for at least six months after your intended entry to the US
- Documents, for example marriage certificate, proving that you are legally married to a US citizen
- Signed Affidavit of Support from the US spouse
- Confirmation page of Form DS-160
- Proof of having undergone a medical examination and gotten all the required vaccines
- Two passport size photographs
- Proof of not having criminal records
- Military records (if you have served in the military).
Once you have all the documents, you can send your portfolio of evidence to the NVC. If you fail to include some of them, your visa application might take longer to be processed. To avoid delays, seek assistance from one of our immigration lawyers.
What is the waiting time for and the cost of the IR1/CR1 Visa?
The IR1/CR1 Visa belongs to the immediate relative category of US Family Based Cards. That means that there are no limits on the number of people who can receive it each year. Consequently, 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 applications for the IR1/CR1 Visa are processed within eight to ten months.
As for the cost, individuals applying for the IR1/CR1 Visa have to pay the following fees:
- $535 for the processing of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives
- $325 for the processing of Form DS-160
- Fees for medical examination and vaccinations
- USCIS immigrant fee of $220 (if your visa application is successful).
Additionally, you might have to pay fees for the translation of documents that are not in English.
What to expect during the interview for the IR1/CR1 Visa?
If the NVC determines that you submitted all the required documents, you will be invited to attend a visa interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in your home country. A visa interview is an important step of the application process for most US visas. Typically, all applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 have to attend one.
During the interview you will be asked questions about your personal circumstances and your relationship. The goal 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 can lead to your visa application being rejected.
If an immigration official is satisfied with what you say during the interview, you will receive the IR1/CR1 Visa and you will be able to start preparing for your journey to the US.
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. Nevertheless, while the IR1/CR1 Visa allows foreign citizens to come to the US as permanent citizens, the K3 Visa is a non-immigrant permit. That means that those who come to the US 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 time K3 Visa holders cannot apply for a different non-immigrant visa.
Moreover, to be able to work in the US while on the K3 Visa, foreign citizens have to apply for a work permit after they arrive. Those who receive the IR1/CR1, on the other hand, automatically get the right to work in the US.
The processing of the K3 Visa usually takes between six and nine months, so the waiting time for it is similar to the waiting time for the Marriage Green Card. That is why it is usually recommended to apply for the IR1/CR1 Visa instead of the K3 Visa.
If you are not sure which visa you should apply for, contact our immigration lawyers. They will assess your eligibility for the IR1/CR1 Visa, as well as for the K3 Visa and will advise you on which one is best for you.
How can IAS help?
Here at IAS, we understand how important family is and we want to help couples start a new life together in the US. Our immigration lawyers are experts when it comes to submitting Marriage Green Card applications. They will help you file all the forms and gather all the required documents. Thanks to that, you can be sure that there are no mistakes in your application.
Our lawyers will guide you through each step of the application process and will always be around to offer you support and answer your questions.
To find out more about how IAS can help, call us today on +1 844 290 6312.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
With our untimed Advice Session, our professional immigration lawyers will review your case and provide you with comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
Yes, if you receive the CR1 Visa holder you will enjoy benefits that permanent residents in the US have. Nevertheless, your status will be conditional and you need to remain married to a US citizen for at least two years to keep your status and be able to stay in the US permanently.
Those who come to the US on the IR1/CR1 Visa can travel freely outside the country and come back without having to reapply for the visa. There are no limits on how many times they can leave and reenter the US.
If the couple has been married for less than two years at the time of submitting their application for 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 those who receive the IR1 Visa can stay in the US indefinitely, CR1 Visa holders enjoy conditional permanent residence. If they get divorced within two years from arriving in the US, they lose their status and have to leave the country. If, however, they remain married for at least two years, they can switch to the IR1 Visa.
The K3 Visa is a nonimmigrant permit that allows successful applicants to stay in the US for two years. After that, foreign citizens have to leave the US or apply for a different permit if they want to stay in the country. The CR1 Visa, on the other hand, is an immigrant so it can lead to permanent residency in the US. That is why the CR1 Visa is the recommended path.