What are IR-1/CR-1 visas?
The IR-1/CR-1 visas are categories of immigrant visas issued by the United States government for spouses of U.S. citizens. Both visas are designed for spouses who are seeking to immigrate to the United States and become lawful permanent residents (green card holders).
- IR-1 Visa (Immediate Relative Visa): The IR-1 visa is known as the “Immediate Relative Visa.” It is specifically for spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married for at least two years at the time of applying for the visa. The key advantage of the IR-1 visa is that once the foreign spouse enters the United States on this visa, they are granted lawful permanent resident status (green card) immediately upon arrival. This means they do not need to apply for a separate green card after entering the U.S.
- CR-1 Visa (Conditional Resident Visa): The CR-1 visa is known as the “Conditional Resident Visa.” It is intended for spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married for less than two years at the time of applying for the visa. Unlike the IR-1 visa, the CR-1 visa holders are initially granted conditional permanent resident status, which is valid for two years. Within the 90-day period before the conditional green card’s expiration, the couple must apply to remove the conditional status and convert it to a regular, unconditional green card. This process involves demonstrating that the marriage is still valid and genuine.
The choice between IR-1 and CR-1 visas depends on the duration of the marriage at the time of visa application. If the marriage has been ongoing for at least two years, the foreign spouse is eligible for the IR-1 visa. If the marriage is less than two years old, the CR-1 visa is applicable.
The process for obtaining IR-1/CR-1 visas involves the U.S. citizen spouse filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of the foreign spouse with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the petition is approved, the foreign spouse can proceed with the visa application through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that immigration laws and policies can change over time, so applicants should always check the latest requirements and guidelines on the official U.S. government websites or consult with an immigration attorney for up-to-date information.
How much does it cost to apply for IR-1/CR-1 visa?
The cost to apply for an IR-1/CR-1 visa (Immediate Relative Visa or Conditional Resident Visa) involves several fees. It’s essential to note that fees are subject to change, so applicants should always check the latest fees on the official U.S. Department of State website or the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa application will be processed. Additionally, fees may vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific services required. Here are some of the typical fees associated with an IR-1/CR-1 visa application:
- Form I-130 Filing Fee: The U.S. citizen petitioner must pay a filing fee when submitting Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As of September 2021, the fee was $535.
- Visa Application Fee: The visa application fee is paid directly to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will have their visa interview. As of September 2021, the fee for an immigrant visa application (including IR-1/CR-1 visas) was $325.
- Medical Examination Fee: The foreign spouse is required to undergo a medical examination by an authorized physician. The cost of the medical exam varies depending on the country and the physician’s fees.
- Affidavit of Support Fee: If the U.S. citizen petitioner is using an agent or a preparer to complete the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), there may be additional fees associated with this service.
- Translation and Document Preparation Fees: Depending on the country and the complexity of the required documents, applicants may need to pay for document translation and preparation services.
- Travel Expenses: Travel expenses related to attending the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, as well as transportation costs for the foreign spouse to travel to the United States upon visa approval.
It’s important for applicants to review the specific fee requirements and instructions provided by the U.S. government’s official websites and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa application will be processed. Additionally, applicants should be cautious of potential scams or unofficial websites claiming to provide visa-related services and should always verify information with official sources.
How long does it take to obtain an IR-1/CR-1 visa?
The processing time to obtain an IR-1/CR-1 visa (Immediate Relative Visa or Conditional Resident Visa) can vary based on various factors, including the applicant’s country of origin, the workload of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa application is processed, and any additional administrative processing required. As of my last update in September 2021, the general processing time for an IR-1/CR-1 visa could range from several months to a year or more. However, it’s important to note that processing times can change over time due to fluctuations in workload, policy changes, or other factors.
The application process typically involves several steps, including the U.S. citizen petitioner filing Form I-130 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), document gathering, a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s home country, and any necessary medical examinations and administrative processing.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the typical steps and timeframes involved in the IR-1/CR-1 visa application process:
- Form I-130 Processing: The USCIS processing time for Form I-130 can vary, but it may take several months to receive an approval notice.
- Visa Interview Scheduling: After USCIS approves the I-130 petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will process the case and schedule an interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Visa Interview Wait Time: The wait time for visa interview appointments can vary significantly between different U.S. Embassies or Consulates. It could be a few weeks to several months.
- Administrative Processing (if applicable): Sometimes, additional administrative processing is required after the visa interview, which may add extra processing time. This can be due to security checks, background checks, or other factors.
Overall, applicants should expect the entire process to take several months or longer from the initial filing of the Form I-130 to the visa issuance and travel to the United States. It is important for applicants to plan ahead, be patient, and stay informed about the status of their application throughout the process.
Applicants can check the current visa processing times for specific U.S. Embassies or Consulates on the U.S. Department of State’s website or by contacting the respective U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa interview will be conducted.