What is an IR-1 and CR-1 visa?
IR-1 and CR-1 visas are both types of immigrant visas issued by the United States for spouses of U.S. citizens. These visas allow the foreign spouse to enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). The primary difference between IR-1 and CR-1 visas lies in the timing of the marriage in relation to the issuance of the visa.
- IR-1 Visa (Immediate Relative Visa): An IR-1 visa is issued to the spouse of a U.S. citizen if the marriage has been in place for more than two years at the time of the visa issuance. This visa category is often referred to as the “Immediate Relative” visa because it doesn’t have the two-year conditional residency requirement that the CR-1 visa has. Once the foreign spouse enters the U.S. on an IR-1 visa and is granted a green card, they receive unconditional permanent residency.
- CR-1 Visa (Conditional Resident Visa): A CR-1 visa is issued to the spouse of a U.S. citizen if the marriage is less than two years old at the time of visa issuance. The “CR” stands for “Conditional Resident.” When the foreign spouse enters the U.S. on a CR-1 visa, they initially receive a conditional green card, which is valid for two years. Within the 90-day period before the conditional green card expires, the couple must jointly apply to remove the conditions on the foreign spouse’s residency by demonstrating the legitimacy of their marriage and meeting certain requirements. If successful, the conditional status is removed, and the foreign spouse becomes a permanent resident.
In both cases, the intention is to allow spouses of U.S. citizens to live and work in the United States as permanent residents. The choice between IR-1 and CR-1 visas depends on the duration of the marriage at the time of application. It’s essential to understand the specific requirements and process associated with each visa category before applying. Keep in mind that immigration policies can change, so it’s recommended to refer to the official U.S. government sources or consult with legal experts for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
How to apply for an IR-1/CR-1 visa?
Applying for an IR-1 or CR-1 visa involves several steps, including gathering the necessary documentation, completing forms, attending interviews, and undergoing medical examinations. Here’s a general overview of the process:
- Petition: The U.S. citizen spouse starts the process by filing 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 petitioner and the foreign spouse. Once approved, the USCIS will send the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC).
- NVC Processing: The NVC will contact the U.S. citizen petitioner with instructions for submitting additional documentation and fees. This may include the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (Form DS-260), and other necessary forms and fees. The NVC will also provide guidance on how to pay the visa application fee.
- Visa Application: The foreign spouse needs to complete Form DS-260 online. This form collects information about the foreign spouse’s background, intended address in the U.S., and more.
- Medical Examination: The foreign spouse must undergo a medical examination conducted by a panel physician approved by the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. The physician will perform various medical tests to ensure the foreign spouse meets the health requirements for immigration.
- Collect Documents: The foreign spouse needs to gather required documents, including but not limited to a valid passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, police clearance certificates, and evidence of the bona fides of the marriage.
- Attend Visa Interview: The foreign spouse will be scheduled for a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. During the interview, a consular officer will ask questions about the relationship, the intention to immigrate, and other relevant matters. The foreign spouse should bring all required documents to the interview.
- Biometrics: Some U.S. embassies and consulates may require the foreign spouse to provide biometric information (fingerprints and photographs) as part of the application process.
- Medical Vaccinations: The foreign spouse should complete any necessary vaccinations before traveling to the U.S. This is often required for immigration purposes.
- Visa Issuance: If approved, the consular officer will issue either an IR-1 or CR-1 visa, depending on the duration of the marriage. The visa will be placed in the foreign spouse’s passport.
- Travel to the U.S.: Upon arrival in the U.S., the foreign spouse will become a permanent resident. A green card will be mailed to the address provided during the visa application process.
It’s crucial to follow the specific instructions provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate where the visa interview will take place. The process may vary slightly depending on the location and the current immigration policies. It’s recommended to visit the official website of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign spouse’s home country for detailed and up-to-date information on the visa application process.
How much does it cost to apply for an IR-1/CR-1 visa?
The cost of applying for an IR-1/CR-1 visa can vary based on several factors, including the fees associated with the visa application process, medical examinations, and other required documents. Keep in mind that fees can change over time, so it’s essential to refer to the official U.S. government sources or the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country for the most up-to-date and accurate fee information. Here are some of the common fees associated with the process:
- Form I-130 Filing Fee: The U.S. citizen petitioner is required to pay a filing fee when submitting Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This fee can vary and is subject to change.
- National Visa Center (NVC) Processing Fee: After the Form I-130 petition is approved by USCIS, the NVC will require a processing fee for the immigrant visa application. This fee covers the cost of handling the case before it’s transferred to the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
- Visa Application Fee: The foreign spouse will need to pay a visa application fee when submitting Form DS-260 online. This fee is typically paid to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign spouse’s home country.
- Medical Examination: The cost of the medical examination can vary depending on the country and the specific panel physician chosen to conduct the examination.
- Police Clearance and Document Translation Fees: Some countries might require police clearance certificates or translated documents as part of the application process, and there could be associated fees.
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) Fee: If the U.S. citizen petitioner is required to submit an Affidavit of Support, there may be costs associated with preparing and submitting the required financial documents.
- Travel Costs: The foreign spouse will also need to consider travel costs to attend the visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country and to travel to the United States after the visa is issued.
It’s important to carefully review the fee information provided by the official U.S. government sources and the specific U.S. embassy or consulate where you’ll be applying for the visa.