What Are the CR1 and IR1 Spousal Visas?
While CR-1 and IR-1 visas provide similar rights and privileges to beneficiaries, they both follow different timelines.
To obtain a CR-1/IR-1 visa, you need to apply via a process known as “consular processing”. The visa types that use consular processing include CR-1/IR-1 spouse and the accompanying CR-2/IR-2 child when the sponsor is a US citizen and the F2-A category (F2-1 spouse, F2-2 child) when the sponsor is a legal permanent resident.
A CR-1/IR-1 Visa allows a US citizen or legal permanent resident to sponsor their foreign spouse to come to the United States.
Differences Between the CR1 and IR1
CR-1, or Conditional Resident, visas are given to applicants who, when arriving in the US with their green card, have been married for less than 2 years. 2 years after their arrival in the US, the beneficiary and their US citizen spouse must apply to remove the conditions from the green card, at which point they will receive an updated 10 year permanent resident card.
IR-1, or Immediate Relative, visas are given to beneficiaries who have been married for more than 2 years when their green card is approved. In this case, the IR-1 holder doesn’t need to remove conditions and will have 10 years before they need to renew their permanent resident card.
Eligible Criteria for the CR1 and IR1 Visa?
To be eligible for the CR-1 and IR-1 Visa, you must:
- Be legally married. This is required so that fake marriages for the purpose of getting a Green Card are not allowed to obtain an IR-1 Visa. Additionally, if the couple is only living together, it is not considered a marriage under US laws and regulations.
- Be a US citizen. One of the spouses must be a US citizen who has a valid address within the US and can support their spouse from a foreign country until both of them have the financial means to support themselves.
What Documents will I Need to Get a CR1 or IR1 Visa?
The supporting documents must be sent to the NVC and the file must contain the following:
- Your valid passport for more than 6 months after your planned entry into the US.
- A signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support from the US petitioner (applicant’s spouse).
- Form DS-260 confirmation page.
- Medical examination and vaccination documents.
- Proof of marriage documents. This could be:
- a certificate which proves the marriage is genuine
- wedding albums
- honeymoon destinations
- receipts from their wedding party and organization, etc.
- Two photographs per individual according to the US Visa Photo Requirements.
- Court and criminal records and/or police certificate.
- If you served in the military, you must bring your military records.
CR1 and IR1 Visa Application Process
To apply for a CR1 or IR1 visa, you’ll need to go through consular processing, which means you’ll need to apply and interview at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Make sure you’re actually eligible to receive a green card. Most importantly, you’ll need to be able to show that you’re in an authentic marriage. Your spouse also should be 18 years or older and "domiciled" in the United States.
The U.S. citizen sponsor — your spouse — will need to complete and file Form I-130 (officially called the “Petition for Alien Relative”).
You’ll then need to wait anywhere from a couple months to over a year for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process the form. If I-130 is approved, you can proceed to the next step.
If approved, you can check the Visa Bulletin to see whether a green card is available. You can skip this step if you’re married to a U.S. citizen, but otherwise you may need to wait in “line.” This can take a long time depending on where you live.
Your petition will then be processed by the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), where your case will be formally entered into the system.
The NVC will notify you about any necessary fees and paperwork to be submitted as part of the application process. They will also instruct you to complete Form DS-260 (officially called the “Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration”) — this is the actual green card application, where you will answer questions about yourself, including your work and education history.
After receiving your paperwork from the NVC, your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate should send you a letter telling you when and where the interview will be conducted.
You’ll need to get a medical exam with an Embassy-approved physician before attending your interview. You can check the Embassy's website to find a list of acceptable doctors.
You’ll need to have all the relevant documentation and your passport when you arrive at your interview. You can contact the Embassy to get a precise list of what you’ll need. You will be expected to answer questions — under oath — about your application.
If no further inquiries are required, you can expect to hear back either immediately or within about a week of your interview. If approved, you should receive a visa — placed inside your passport — and a sealed envelope with your documents. Do not unseal this envelope. The immigration officer at the border should be the only one who opens it.
The visa provided by the consular officer will remain valid for 6 months following your medical exam. Once the U.S. border official admits you into the United States — and returns your documents — your visa will be valid for 12 months, allowing you to travel freely in and out of the country. You can expect to receive your final green card during that 12-month period.
Employment and Travel Authorization
If the IR1 visa is approved, the spouse from the foreign country can travel to the US freely. The visa will be stamped on their passport and the Embassy will give them a package which they must bring to the US when they first enter the country. This package must not be opened under any circumstances. Only the US immigrant officials at any US point of entry are allowed to open it and decide whether the applicant is allowed to enter the country or not.
When you become a permanent resident of the United States, you can be employed and work wherever you would like in any capacity.
What Are the CR1 and IR1 Visa Fees?
The fees that the IR-1/CR-1 applicant must pay are as follows:
- $535 for the petition.
- $325 for the visa application (Form DS-260 fees).
- The fees for the supporting documents and translation.
How Long Is the CR1 and IR1 Visa Processing Time?
Since the IR1 visa does not have annual caps, the processing times are also much shorter than the Family Preference Visas. In total, the processing time can take from 8 to 10 months, depending on the individual circumstances.
How Do I Get a Social Security Card Once I Successfully Secure a CR1/IR1 Spouse Visa?
When completing the online immigrant visa application, you can opt to receive a Social Security card after your arrival in the United States. In this case, you would most likely receive the card within 6 weeks of your admission into the country. If, for whatever reason, you haven’t elected to receive a Social Security card, you will have to apply for one with the Social Security Administration.