CR1 & IR1 Spouse Visa Guide
If you are the spouse of an American citizen, you may be seeking permission to come to the United States under either a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa. Below we look at how these two types of visa work and how they differ. We examine what each visa allows, their requirements, the application process and documentation needed, as well as the cost and processing time. We also explain what to do after a CR1 visa or IR1 visa is granted, or if your visa is refused.
What is the CR1 visa?
The CR1 visa is a conditional spousal visa, initially valid for 2 years. This is an immigrant visa that allows the foreign spouse of a US citizen to enter the US as a conditional permanent resident, where the acronym “CR” stands for “Conditional Residency”.
This type of visa will be applicable to applicants whose marriage is less than 2 years old, where the imposition of conditional resident status is deemed necessary by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish that a marriage is made in good faith. As such, the CR1 green card is only valid for a period of 2 years, and will require you and your spouse to jointly apply to remove the conditional status prior to expiry of this 2-year period.
What is the IR1 visa?
The IR1 visa is a more permanent spousal visa, initially valid for a period of 10 years. This is an immigrant visa that allows the spouse of a US citizen to enter the United States as a permanent resident from the outset, without qualification, where the acronym “IR” stands for “Immediate Relative”. This type of visa will be granted to applicants who have been married to an American citizen for more than 2 years.
If you do not apply for US citizenship within the first 10 years of living in the United States as a lawful permanent resident, you will be required to renew your IR1 visa, also commonly known as a marriage green card, prior to expiry of the 10-year validity period.
How are the IR1 and CR1 visas different?
Both the CR1 visa and IR1 visa fall under the US immigrant classification, where either will enable you to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident, although the CR1 visa will remain conditional for a period of 2 years and until an application is made to remove those conditions. In contrast, the IR1 visa is unconditional, with a validity period of 10 years.
Ultimately, the type of green card that you will be entitled to will depend on how long you and your US spouse have been married at the time of submitting your application.
CR1 and IR1 visa requirements
When applying for either a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa, as the foreign spouse of a US citizen, there are various requirements that must be met, not least that you are in a marriage that is legally recognised in the US and that you intend to live together as man and wife.
Your US spouse must maintain their principal residence, also referred to as their domicile, in the United States. This is essentially where they plan to live for the foreseeable future, and where you will live if granted a green card. They must also be able to show that they can financially support you without the need for government assistance.
When it comes to the financial requirement for these types of visa, there are certain income thresholds that must be met. Typically, to be eligible for either a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa, the household income of the petitioning spouse must be at least 125% of the current poverty level. This is calculated based on the sponsor’s household size, although different thresholds may apply depending on where your spouse is resident.
In most cases, assuming you have no children and your spouse is not in active military service, where the threshold is set at 100% of the poverty guidelines, your spouse will need to be earning a minimum annual salary of $22,887.50 (125% of £$18,310). However, if your US spouse cannot meet the minimum income requirements using their earned income, they may be able to add the cash value of any assets they own to make up the shortfall.
How to apply for the CR1 and IR1 visas
There are various procedural steps that must be taken when applying for either a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa although, in either case, your US spouse must first file a petition on your behalf. This is referred to as Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative).
The I-130 petition is to establish a qualifying relationship for the purposes of a family-based permanent residence application, in this case a spousal relationship. As part of this petition process, your US spouse will need to demonstrate to USCIS that your marriage is genuine and made in good faith, rather than a sham so as to unlawfully procure a green card.
After USCIS approves the petition, it will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once received, the NVC will assign a case number to that petition and begin pre-processing your case, providing you and your spouse with instructions to submit the appropriate fees. After the fees are paid, your spouse will be required to complete Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support), demonstrating their ability to provide adequate means of financial support, such that you are not likely to become a public charge whilst living in the US.
The NVC will also request the necessary immigrant visa documents, including the DS-260 application form (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration). The DS-260 is sometimes referred to as either the CR1 form or the IR1 form.
Once you submit your fees, forms and supporting documents to NVC, your case will be reviewed to ensure that you have provided all the necessary documentation required to schedule your immigrant visa interview. However, you will also be required to attend interview with various documents in your possession, for example, after submitting Form DS-260 online, you must print out the confirmation page. Importantly, prior to interview, you will need to attend a medical examination and receive any required vaccinations.
CR1 and IR1 visa supporting documents
Marrying a US citizen does not guarantee the grant of either a CR1 visa or IR1 visa, where applications for lawful permanent residence on the basis of marriage are closely scrutinised to prevent abuse of the system. As such, when filing a petition for a marriage-based green card, and when submitting an application for the visa itself, both you and your US spouse must provide documentation to show that your marriage is genuine. Your spouse will also need to provide evidence of their US residence and financial means.
To ensure that you provide the necessary documentation in support of your application for either a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa, it is always best to have an expert in immigration law help you and your spouse prepare both your petition and application, and to advise you on what documents you will need to take with you when you attend your immigrant interview. In this way, you can maximise the prospects of a successful outcome, where failure to bring all the relevant documentation will often delay issuance of your CR1 or IR1 visa.
How much do CR1 and IR1 visas cost?
The cost of filing Form I-130 is currently $535. You or your spouse will also be required to pay a visa application processing fee of $325, plus a $120 affidavit of support fee. Finally, there is an immigrant visa fee of $220, for USCIS to produce and mail your green card.
If you are granted a CR1 visa, there will be an additional fee when applying to remove your conditional permanent residency status after a period of 2 years. There will also be an additional fee to renew your IR1 visa after a period of 10 years.
How long does it take to process CR1 and IR1 visas?
Applying for either a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa can take several months. This is because there are two stages to this process; the filing of a petition on your behalf by your US spouse, together with an application and interview at your local US Embassy or Consulate.
However, since there is no cap on the number of spousal visas issued each year, applicants do not need to wait for their priority dates to become current. Immediately after your petition is approved by USCIS, you can start your immigrant visa application.
What happens after a CR1 visa or IR1 visa is granted?
The CR1 visa is an immigrant visa that will allow you to enter the United States as a conditional permanent resident. This means that, having been successfully granted a CR1 visa, you will be required to remove the conditions on your permanent resident status prior to expiry of the 2-year validity period. Under the rules, you and your spouse must file a petition within the 90-day period before your green card expires. Importantly, you cannot renew your CR1 visa where, if your conditions are not removed, you will lose the right to permanent residency and risk being deported from the US.
When applying to remove your conditional status, you will need to submit Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, together with a number of documents to show that your marriage is ongoing and genuine. However, you may also be eligible to remove your conditions on permanent residence if you entered into the marriage in good faith but it has since ended, you have been widowed, you were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your US spouse, or where removal from the US would cause extreme hardship.
In cases where you are no longer married to your US spouse, or you have been battered or abused by them, you may request a waiver of the joint filing requirement. However, it is always best to seek expert advice in these cases to stand the best possible chance of success.
The fee for filing Form I-751 is $595, together with a biometric service fee of $85.
When it comes to IR1 visas, you can apply to renew your IR1 visa within 6 months of its expiry by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. The current filing fee for Form I-90 is $455, plus an $85 biometrics fee. Alternatively, having satisfied a 3-year residence requirement, together with various other requirements, you can apply for US citizenship by way of naturalisation. This is the process by which a person not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a US citizen.
What can you do if a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa is refused?
There are all sorts of reasons as to why a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa can be refused. In some cases, you may be able to apply for what is known a waiver of ineligibility, but specialist legal advice should be sought immediately to help identify and resolve any issues.
CR1 & IR1 visas FAQs
What is a IR1 visa?
An IR1 visa is an immigrant visa for immediate relatives of US citizens, including a foreign spouse. This will allow foreign spouses of American citizens to come to the United States as lawful permanent residents.
Which is better CR1 or IR1 visa?
A CR1 visa is an immigrant visa with conditional status, where these conditions must be removed after 2 years, whilst an IR1 visa will be valid for a period of 10 years.
How long does a IR1 visa take?
It can take several months to obtain an IR1 visa, where a petition must first be filed by the US sponsor with US Citizenship and Immigration Services, followed by an application and interview with the applicant’s local US Embassy.
Is IR1 same as green card?
An IR1 visa is a green card based on a qualifying family relationship to a US citizen, where the acronym IR stands for “Immediate Relative”. An IR1 green card will grant you lawful permanent resident status.
How long does CR1 visa take?
A CR1 visa can take several months to process. This is because it involves a two-stage process, including a petition filed on behalf of the applicant by the US spouse, followed by a visa application made by the foreign spouse.
What CR1 visa means?
A CR1 visa is an immigrant visa provided on a conditional basis, where the acronym “CR” stands for “Conditional Residency”. Shortly prior to expiry of the 2-year validity period of a CR1 visa, you can apply to remove these conditions.
What are the requirements for a CR1 visa?
There are various requirements for a CR1 visa, including evidence that any marriage is both legal and genuine, and that the US spouse has sufficient financial means to support their foreign spouse without that individual becoming a public charge.
Does CR1 mean on your green card?
CR1 on your green card basically means that your lawful permanent residency status is conditional. You and your spouse can apply to remove this conditional status after 2 years.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.