- What is a marriage-based green card?
- What can you do with this type of spouse visa?
- What is the difference between the IR1 and CR1 visas?
- What are the requirements for an IR1/CR1 visa?
- How do I apply for a Marriage Green Card?
- IR1/CR1 Application Stage
- Required Medical Examination and Vaccinations
- What are the required documents for the IR1/CR1 visa?
- What happens during the Marriage-Based Green Card interview?
- What are the fees for the IR1/CR1 visa application?
- What is the processing time for a Marriage-Based Green Card?
What is a marriage-based green card?
The IR1/CR1 visa is a marriage-based immigrant visa for foreign citizens who are the spouses of U.S. citizens or green cardholders. This green card allows the foreign-born spouse to a become permanent resident in the United States by allowing them to legally enter and settle in the country.
This type of immigrant visa falls into the immediate relative category of family-based green cards and is therefore not subject to any yearly cap. Marriage green card recipients become eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after living 3 years continuously in the United States with their U.S. citizen spouse.
What can you do with this type of spouse visa?
This immigrant spouse visa grants its recipients lawful permanent resident status in the United States. As a result of this immigrant status, marriage-based green card holders can do the following:
- Travel freely in and out of the U.S. (provided they travel on a valid visa)
- Obtain a U.S. driver’s license
- Open a bank account in the United States
- Legally work without needing an employment permit
- Study at higher learning institutions or other educational programs
What is the difference between the IR1 and CR1 visas?
Both the IR1 and CR1 are marriage-based green cards. However, what type of visa a foreign spouse will receive will depend on the length of time the couple has been married.
If a couple has been married for less than 2 years old, the foreign spouse will receive a conditional residence visa (CR1). This visa is valid for only 2 years and is used to make sure that the marriage is bona fide and entered into with good faith. After 2 years have passed and the couple is still together, both spouses will need to file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions). This joint petition will allow the foreign-born spouse to then be transferred to an IR1 visa which is valid for 10 years.
If a couple has been married for over 2 years, the foreign spouse will automatically be given an IR1 visa which is valid for 10 years.
What are the requirements for an IR1/CR1 visa?
In order to qualify for a marriage-based green card, you must submit a valid marriage certificate that is legally recognized by the United States government. The U.S. citizen can apply for a K1 Fiancé visa if the couple is unable to legally get married abroad. This non-immigrant visa will allow the foreign-born spouse to enter the United States for 90 days for the purposes of legal marriage.
In addition to having a valid marriage certificate, the foreign citizen spouse must also be married to either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (aka, a U.S. green card holder). The U.S. citizen spouse must also be over 18 years old, have a valid U.S. address, and is able to meet the specific income requirements.
How do I apply for a Marriage Green Card?
There are 2 stages when applying for a marriage-based green card: the petition stage and the application stage.
The petition stage is the first step in the visa process where the U.S. citizen spouse petitions for an IR1/CR1 visa for their foreign citizen spouse. In order to petition for their spouse, the U.S. citizen must complete Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relatives) and submit it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After this is submitted, the USCIS will then process the petition and send their decision to you on whether or not you are approved within a few months.
If you are approved for a visa, the USCIS will then inform the petitioner (U.S. spouse) of their decision. If the request is denied, the petitioner will be informed of the reasons why it was refused. It should be noted that most petitions are denied due to minor mistakes on the form. Once these mistakes are fixed, the petition can then be resubmitted.
After the petition is approved, the foreign-citizen spouse can then start the visa application process. Instructions for how to begin this process will be sent to the visa applicant in an informational packet sent by the National Visa Center (NVC). Provided in the packet will be a case number and ID invoice number that will be needed in order to continue the rest of the visa application process.
IR1/CR1 Application Stage
After the family-based green card sponsorship petition is approved, the foreign spouse can then start the application process. In order to do this, the visa applicant will need to do the following:
- Complete Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application)
- Undergo a medical examination and receive any required vaccinations
- Collect the necessary documents complete with certified translations and include them in a portfolio of evidence
- Schedule and attend a visa interview at their nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate (if abroad) or at a nearby USCIS office (if in the U.S.)
The DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Application Form) is an online form that asks a series of questions related to the applicant’s background and the reasons why they are seeking to relocate to the United States. After this form is completed and submitted, you will be shown a confirmation page and number. It is important to print out this confirmation page and include it in your portfolio of evidence that you will later send to the NVC.
Required Medical Examination and Vaccinations
All applicants applying for an immigrant visa to the United States will be required to undergo a valid medical examination. The purpose of this exam is to determine if an individual is healthy enough to enter and live in the United States without posing as a medical risk to the general public. In addition to a medical evaluation, the applicant must also receive all necessary and required vaccinations.
All forms relating to both the medical evaluation and vaccinations will need to be signed by a licensed doctor. These documents will need to be included in the portfolio of evidence submitted for the marriage-based green card. Instructions, as well as all information about what specific vaccinations are required, will be provided in the NVC packet send to the visa applicant.
What are the required documents for the IR1/CR1 visa?
In addition to your visa application, you will be asked to provide a number of supporting documents to support your application. These will be gathered to form a portfolio of evidence and may include the following:
- A passport that is valid for at least more than six months after your planned entry into the United States
- A valid and legal marriage certificate
- A signed Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) from the U.S. petitioner
- A printout of the DS-260 application confirmation page
- Signed Medical examination and vaccination documents
- Two photographs per individual (these must conform to U.S. visa standards)
- Court and criminal records and/or police certificate
- Military records if you ever served in the military
Once you have gathered all of your supporting documents together, you can then send them off to the NVC along with your application form. The NVC will then assess your application packet to determine whether or not you have provided enough evidence. If the NVC needs more information for your application to be processed, you will then be sent a request for more information. It is important to send the request information before the deadline given or it will not be considered. This lack of necessary information may cause your marriage green card to be rejected.
What happens during the Marriage-Based Green Card interview?
After the NVC has looked over all of the documents and is satisfied with the information provided, the visa applicant will then be asked to attend a marriage-based green card interview. If the applicant is abroad, this interview will take place at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If the applicant is in the United States, he/she will be asked to go to a nearby USCIS office for the interview.
The last stage of the application process is the visa interview. At this interview, the applicant will be asked a number of questions regarding his/her background, the information provided in the application, and their relationship with their spouse. If the applicant is in the U.S. for this interview, his/her spouse will also attend and participate in the interview. However, if the applicant is abroad, only the foreign spouse will need to attend.
The purpose of this specific marriage-based green card interview is to assess whether or not the marriage is bona fide and entered into with good faith. If the relationship is found to be genuine, the visa applicant will then be approved for their IR1/CR1 visa.
Once approved, the foreign spouse will then be issued a visa stamp on his/her passport. This stamp allows the foreign citizen spouse to enter the United States within a fixed time frame. When the spouse is settled in the United States, he/she will receive their permanent resident card in the mail to the address provided in the visa application form.
In addition to receiving a visa stamp in their passport, the visa recipient will also be given a sealed packet. This packet contains documents important to the green card and must remain unopened until it is given to an immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry. The border control official will then inspect the documents inside the packet and if everything is in order, the visa recipient will be allowed entry into the United States.
What are the fees for the IR1/CR1 visa application?
Expenses for the IR1/CR1 visa will depend on the country from where the application was made. In general, the main fees for an IR1/CR1 visa will include the following:
- Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relatives): $535
- Form DS-260 for visa application: $325
- Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support): $120
- Medical examination and required vaccinations: costs will vary
- USCIS Immigrant fee: $220
- Certified translation of documents: costs will vary
The USCIS immigrant fee covers the cost of processing and delivery of your permanent resident card (aka, green card). Therefore, if you do not pay this fee, your card will neither be processed nor sent. It is highly recommended that you pay the USCIS immigrant fee as soon as you can in order to avoid any unnecessary delays in receiving your permanent resident card.
This card will be sent to you via mail at the mailing address you put down on the DS-260 form. You should expect to receive the card within 90 days of entry into the United States or if you traveled to the U.S. without paying it, you will then receive it within 90 days of payment receipt.
What is the processing time for a Marriage-Based Green Card?
In comparison to other visas such as the F2A which is subject to a yearly cap, the processing time for a marriage-based visa is relatively shorter. As there are no yearly limits for IR1/CR1 visas, there is no waiting time for your visa application to become current.
As a result, the IR1/CR1 visas are usually completed within 8-10 months. The length of time it will take to receive a visa will depend on a number of factors such as the speed at which the NVC processes a visa, if there were any mistakes in the application or requests for more information and whether or not there is a large backlog to compete with.
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The K3 Spouse visa is a non-immigrant visa intended for temporary stays in the United States. Unlike the IR1/CR1 visa, the K3 Spouse visa does not grant lawful permanent resident status to the visa recipient (aka, a green card).
Normally, if a U.S. green card holder wants to apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, they are eligible to do so after 5 years of continuous living in the United States. However, those who were granted marriage-based green cards are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after 3 years if they are still married and living with their American spouse.
When a visa is denied, the recipient will be notified of the reason for the refusal. Usually, the reason for rejection is due to minor mistakes in the application or lack of sufficient information.
If this is the case for your visa being denied, you can simply just reapply after amending the mistakes from the first application. However, if the reason for rejection is due to something more complicated, then you may choose to apply for an appeal or motion to change the decision.
If you choose to pursue legal action like an appeal or motion to change, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who can provide you with the necessary guidance on how to proceed.