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Immigration Lawyer Chicago/ Immigration Forms for U.S. Citizenship, Naturalization, and Admission/ CR1 vs IR1 Spouse Visas: What’s the Difference?
You’ve met the one you want to marry, but they’re a U.S. citizen and you’re not. Now, you’re navigating the complicated process of obtaining a marriage-based green card while living abroad. One of your main choices is whether to pursue a CR1 or IR1 visa, both of which will allow you to move to the United States with your spouse.
In this blog, we’ll outline the key differences between these two visas, the cost, and the processing time so that you can make the best decision when filing for your spousal visa.
The difference between the two types of spouse visas lies mainly in the length of time it takes for you to become a permanent resident in the U.S.
The CR1 visa allows you to enter the United States as a conditional resident, meaning that after two years, you’ll have to file for a 10-year green card. This visa is for spouses who have been married for less than two years when they arrive in the U.S.
The IR1 visa, on the other hand, grants you immediate and unrestricted permanent residency upon entering the United States. This visa is for spouses who have been married for more than two years. In 10 years, you’ll need to renew the permanent resident card.
Yes, you can switch from a CR1 to an IR1 visa. To do this, you’ll need to file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. This form must be filed within 90 days before your two-year anniversary as a conditional resident.
For either the CR1 visa or IR1 visa, you’ll need to apply for an interview at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This is also known as consular processing.
To begin the process for a CR1 or IR1 visa, you must gather evidence that proves your marriage is authentic. This includes proof of cohabitation, financial documents showing joint ownership, and photographs from your wedding or other trips together.
Additionally, your spouse must have a principal residence in the United States and intend to keep that residence.
There are expectations for temporary foreign residences, especially for military personnel. Additionally, if your spouse is in the military and is scheduled to deploy in the near future, the USCIS will review expedited requests on a case-by-case basis.
The U.S. citizen in your relationship will start the process with the USCIS by submitting an I-130, petition for alien relative to the USCIS.
Once the I-130 petition is approved, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) where you will be assigned a case number. You will receive a welcome letter by email or physical mail containing your login information for the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC), which allows you to check the status of your application and receive messages.
Your spouse will also need to sign Form I-864 or Form I-864EZ, an affidavit of support, and you’ll need to complete payment of any processing fees.
NVC will ask you to complete an online visa application Form DS-260, an application for immigrant visa and alien registration, which is the green card application where you will provide information about your background. After submitting the online form, you will print the confirmation page to bring to your interview.
Additionally, you’ll complete Form DS-261, which tells the State Department how to best communicate with you.
Next, you’ll collect, scan, and submit any required documents.
You, your spouse, and any qualified children will participate in the interview. You’ll bring your appointment letter, passport, photographs, DS-260 confirmation page, and any supporting documents to the interview. You’ll also need to complete any fee payments if they are unpaid.
If you cannot appear for your interview for any reason, you should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible to reschedule. If you don’t inform the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you will not be present at your scheduled interview, your case may be terminated and your petition canceled. Additionally, you will not receive any refunds for the fees you paid.
If it is approved, your visa will be placed on a page in your passport. In the case of denial, the consular officer will inform you of why you are ineligible. In some cases, the consular officer does not have enough information to process your application. If you believe there was an error, you can appeal the decision.
The timeline for your I-130 petition varies depending on whether or not your spouse is a U.S. permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. Additionally, your service center may affect the processing time which currently ranges from 12 months to 23 months.
For example, as of December 2022, if you are a permanent resident filing for a spousal visa using the California service center, you can expect it to take 25 months. For U.S. citizens, you can expect it to take 10 months. 10 months if you are a U.S. Citizen. You can use the USCIS Processing Times calculator to determine what to expect for your case.
You’ll have to pay processing fees for several different forms and steps in the application process, including:
Other costs could include translators, photocopying, obtaining official documents like birth certificates, passports, and police certificates, and travel expenses to the interview.
Once you have received your visa, it’s time to make plans for travel! Your spouse receiving the visa will need to enter the United States within 6 months of the date that their visa was issued and they’ll need to bring all required documents with them.
Within 90 days of the two-year anniversary of your arrival, you’ll have to remove conditions from your permanent resident card. If you submit the form too early, the USCIS will return it. If you submit it too late, your application could be denied.
To do this, both spouses will need to complete Form I-751 and petition to remove conditions on residence.
You’ll need to submit similar proof as the original application to prove that your marriage is authentic. This could include evidence like joint bank accounts, utility bills, insurance policies, and more. You may also be asked to attend a follow-up interview.
Once the conditions have been removed from your permanent resident card, you’ll receive a new card without conditions. You’ll need to renew your green card every 10 years.
Because of this additional step, the LR1 costs less than a CR2 fee overall.
Similar to the original petition, there will be fees attached to the process of removing conditions from your visa including:
Other costs could include translators, photocopying, obtaining official documents like birth certificates, passports, and police certificates, and travel expenses.
The spouse receiving the visa will need to enter the United States within 6 months of the date that their visa was issued, and they’ll need to bring all required documents with them. At the 10-year anniversary of your arrival in the United States, you’ll have to renew your green card.
When your green card is within six months of expiring, you’ll need to submit a renewal application.
To do this, you’ll file Form I-90, an application to replace your permanent resident card. You can file it online or by mail.
The filing fee for Form I-90 is $455, and you’ll have to pay another $85 biometrics fee.
Other costs could include translators, photocopying, or obtaining official documents like birth certificates, passports, and police certificates.
Yes, you can submit an application for a CR1 or LR1 spouse visa in a same-sex marriage. The process is the same.
The U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has accepted same-sex marriages since 2013.
When submitting an application for a CR1 or LR1 visa, you’ll need to provide the same proof of marriage as any other couple, such as joint bank accounts, utility bills, insurance policies, and more.
If you are engaged, you’ll need to apply for a K-1 fiance visa. This is an immigrant visa specifically designed for couples who are engaged and plan to get married in the United States.
To apply for this visa, you and your partner will submit Form I-129F, petition for alien fiancé(e). You’ll need to provide proof that you have met in person within the past two years and evidence of your intention to marry soon.
The filing fee for this visa is $535, and there are additional costs such as travel expenses, translation fees, photocopying, and obtaining official documents like birth certificates and police certificates.
The process of applying for a CR1 or IR1 Spouse Visa can be complex and tedious. The paperwork is extensive, the requirements are stringent, and making even one small mistake could result in your petition being denied.
Hiring an experienced immigration attorney to help you navigate the process ensures that all forms are filled out accurately, you meet all deadlines, and you provide all the necessary supporting documents. This can help to reduce delays and increase your chances of a successful application. An immigration attorney can also help if you have any questions or concerns about the process.
Overall, the CR1 or IR1 Spouse Visa can be a complicated process, but if you take the necessary steps and prepare properly, you can successfully apply for the visa.
Before hiring an immigration attorney to help you apply for a CR1 or IR1 Spouse Visa, you should ask them some questions, such as:
By asking the right questions and researching attorneys, you can make sure that you hire someone who is experienced in the CR1 or IR1 visa process and can guide you through it successfully.
By understanding the requirements and knowing what to expect, you can be prepared for any situation during the CR1 or IR1 Spouse Visa application process. With the help of an experienced immigration attorney and proper preparation, your visa application will have a higher chance of success.
At Scott D. Pollock and Associates, our experienced immigration attorneys can help you every step of the way, from preparing your application to obtaining the necessary documents.
We have a proven track record of successful visa applications and are committed to providing personalized service that meets your individual needs.
We understand that the process of obtaining a CR1 or LR1 visa can be complicated, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping you through every stage of the process so that you can obtain your spouse’s visa as quickly and easily as possible. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form.