Updated: 8/15/2017

What Is a CR1/IR1 Spousal Visa?

IR1/CR1 Spousal Visa

CR1/IR1 Spouse Visas are immigrant visas issued to foreign spouses of US Citizens.

After the US citizen spouse files I-130 petition with the USCIS, the foreign spouse will complete the visa process in their foreign country.

Upon approval and once the visa is issued, the foreign spouse may enter the US with their visa and pass through Port of Entry, where they will become a Permanent Resident immediately.

They will receive a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) in the mail at the US Address specified on their application within a few weeks.

The CR-1 visa will allow the immigrating relative to enter as a permanent resident and not have to file for adjustment of status after arrival.

What is the difference between CR1 and IR1 visa?

The CR1 (“conditional residency”) visa is issued when you have been married less than 2 years at the time of your application. It grants you a temporary 2 year green card upon moving to the US. You will then need to remove the 2 year conditions by filing I-751 removal of conditions.

The IR1 (“immediate relative”) visa is issued when you have been married for more than 2 years at the time of your application. It grants you a 10 year green card which you will need to renew or you can file for US citizenship.

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CR1 Visa Process Timeline

  • Step 1: Fill out I-130 petition & send to USCIS lockbox (time varies)
  • Step 2: Receive Notice of Action 1 (1 week)
  • Step 3: I-130 petition is approved (4-6 months)
  • Step 4: Case is sent to National Visa Center (1-2 weeks)
  • Step 5: NVC issues case number and sends packet 4 to beneficiary (1-2 weeks)
  • Step 6: Beneficiary completes DS-261 choosing an agent (time varies)
  • Step 7: Beneficiary/Petitioner pays IV and AOS fees (time varies)
  • Step 8: Beneficiary completes online form DS-260 (time varies)
  • Step 9: NVC forwards case to US consulate (1-2 weeks)
  • Step 10: US consulate schedules interview (2-3 weeks)
  • Step 11: Beneficiary schedules medical examination (time varies)
  • Step 12: Beneficiary attends visa interview (time varies)
  • Step 13: If CR1 visa approved, beneficiary enter the US at port of entry (time varies)

Total Time For CR1 Visa Completion: Up to 12 Months.

  • If you receive an RFE this will delay your case by up to 60 days.
  • If you have a criminal conviction that makes you inadmissible, this requires that you submit a waiver form I-601 (this can delay your case by a few months)

Learn the top 10 reasons a CR1 visa is denied.

Learn more about the NVC process.

Forms To File For I-130 Petition (Step 1)

I-130 Petition for Alien Relative [download]
A citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States may file this form to establish the relationship to certain alien relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States. A separate form must be filed for each eligible relative.

Step-by-step tutorial on how to fill out I-130 (with screenshots)

I-130A Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary [download]
Biographic Information: To provide biographic information on the beneficiary spouse. (if non-US spouse lives overseas they don’t need to sign it. If they are currently in the US, they must sign it.)

Step-by-step tutorial on how to fill out I-130A (with screenshots)

G-1145 (optional) E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance [download]

This form is used to receive electronic notification (e-Notification) that your application has been accepted.

Learn what to include if you have children that will immigrate with you.

Assembling The I-130 Package

Payment: Use a personal check or money order. Make check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (Fee $535.00)

Cover Letter [download]

Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative

Copy of the full Birth certificate (front and back) for the US Citizen or a copy of ALL pages of the US Citizen’s passport. This is used to establish citizenship.

If petitioner was not born in the US:

  • A copy of petitioner’s proof of naturalization. (If applicable)
  • A copy of petitioner’s proof of permanent residency. (If applicable)

A copy of your marriage certificate (Translate if not in English)

Divorce/Annulment Decrees (If either of you were previously married)

  • copies of divorce documents (must be court certified copies)
  • copies of prior spouse’s death certificate
  • copies of annulment documents of prior marriages.

I-130A filled out by the non-US Citizen spouse with their information, signed and dated. (if non-US spouse lives overseas they don’t need to sign it. If they are currently in the US, they must sign it.)

Evidence of a bona fide marriage (see note below for what to include).

2017 Income Requirement

Household Size100% Poverty Guideline

Active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces

125% Poverty Guideline

For all other sponsors

2$16,240$20,300
3$20,420$25,525
4$24,600$30,750
5$28,780$35,975
6$32,960$41,200
7$37,140$46,425
8$41,320$51,650

Free USCIS Income Calculator

USCIS income calculator

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USCIS INCOME CALCULATOR
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Where to Send Your I-130 Petition

If US citizen live in:

Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virgin Islands, Washington, Wyoming

USCIS Phoenix Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

USCIS
ATTN: I-130
PO Box 21700
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

USCIS
Attn: I-130
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

If US citizen lives in:

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin.

USCIS Chicago Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service:

USCIS
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

USCIS
Attn: I-130
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

If US citizen lives abroad:

USCIS Chicago Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service:

USCIS
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

USCIS
Attn: I-130
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Forms Needed To File For IR1/CR1 Visa (Step 2)

DS-260 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration [example]

This is an online form which the embassy requires to obtain your CR1/IR1 visa.

I-864 Affidavit of Support [download]

To show that an intending immigrant has adequate means of financial support and  is not likely to become a public charge. (must be filled out by US citizen)

Once I-130 is approved, National Visa Center (NVC) will send the non-US citizen spouse a packet of forms (listed above) that you both need to fill out before an interview date will be given to you.

Evidence Of A Bona Fide Marriage

The following evidence can be used to show a bona fide marriage. Provide as much documentation as possible (there is never too much!)

  • Affidavit from petitioner and beneficiary verifying the marriage or relationship
  • Affidavit from witnesses to the relationship/marriage (parents, siblings, other relatives, close friends)
  • Wedding announcements, invitations
  • Church certificate
  • Wedding pictures
  • Joint bank account letter (when opened and balance) and recent statements
  • Joint credit card statement – including receipts from charges made by both of you
  • Evidence of joint life and cohabitation: monthly bills, insurance, assets etc.
  • A deed showing co-ownership of your property or a lease agreement with both of your names on the lease
  • Receipts of money transfer (if applicable)
  • Phone bills showing your conversations
  • Receipts of gifts sent online or otherwise
  • Transcripts of chats or Skype calls
  • Copies of letters and/or e-mails
  • Copies of holiday cards addressed to you both
  • Birth certificate of any child that has been born to your marriage
  • Airline ticket receipts showing trips taken together or to visit each other — including boarding passes
  • Copies of the passport stamps from any visits to your spouse’s country
  • Pictures of you together on vacation and/or with family and friends. It’s best to include a range of times, not just a bunch of photos from a short period of time

After You Mail Out The I-130 Petition

A few weeks after you have sent your petition to the USCIS you will receive a Notice of Action (aka NOA) letter indicating that they have begun processing your I-130 application.

You can check the status of your application as well as other processing time information here.

When your I-130 petition is finally approved, the USCIS office that processed your petition, will send you another Notice of Action letter indicating your approval, and the forwarding of your approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, along with a phone number to contact the NVC with.

Your case will now only be dealt with by the NVC. The service center that you filed with, will have no more knowledge on the status of your petition or case.

You will receive your last Notice of Action in a few weeks indicating the approval and forwarding of your I-130 application to the NVC, the NVC will send your relative a packet of forms that you and your relative must fill out before your relative can be given an interview date with a consulate abroad.

The packet will likely contain instructions for filling out DS-261 choose an agent, and DS-260 immigrant visa form part one and two forms that must be filled out by the intending immigrant online at CEAaC.gov site.

 Form I-864 is also included that must be filled out by the US citizen petitioner. The I-864 is the Affidavit of Support form requires copies of IRS tax transcripts for the past 3 years as well as any bank or financial records available as supporting documents.

The petitioner must make at least 125% above the U.S federal poverty to prove that intending immigrant will not become a public charge.

If the petitioner cannot meet these requirements, then they must still file out form I-864, and find a joint sponsor who can meet the requirements on their own. When a joint sponsor is needed, proof of their U.S citizenship or permanent residency is required for the joint sponsor as well. (i.e. copy of birth certificate, immigration status etc).

The joint sponsor must be residing in the U.S, and they must also submit the last 3 years U.S tax transcripts along with bank or any other financial records available. The joint sponsor must submit their own I-864 form to accompany the petitioner’s I-864 form.

Documents To Gather Before Interview

The Non-US citizen spouse will need to gather and bring the following documents to their interview:

  • Completed and signed DS-169.
  • Completed and signed DS-230 Part 1 and 2 forms.
  • I-864 Affidavit of Support Form along with last 3 year U.S tax transcripts and supporting financial documents.
  • A copy of all pages of intending immigrants passport(s).
  • Original or certified “long” birth certificate.
  • Original adoption decree. (if applicable)
  • Marriage certificate. (if applicable)
  • Divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s) (if applicable)
  • Police clearance certificate(s)
  • Court and prison records.(if applicable)
  • Custody records. (if applicable)
  • Military records (if applicable)

After the NVC or Consulate Abroad receives the above forms and supporting documents (you may not be required to mail back at that time), an interview date will be scheduled for the intending immigrant at a consulate abroad.

The NVC or the consulate abroad will send the intending immigrant a letter indicating the time and day of the interview, and a list of required forms that must be brought to the interview.

No Birth Certificate Available: obtain a certified statement from the appropriate government authority stating the reason the applicant’s birth record is not available.

Police Clearances:  must obtain police clearance from all countries you have resided in for more than 6 months after age 16.

The Medical Examination

Every applicant will need to complete a medical examination by a civil surgeon chosen by USCIS. No one is exempt from the medical no matter their age.

You must make the medical exam appointment yourself before the interview date. It’s best to schedule all of your medical exams on the same day so that the results will be ready at the same time.

  • Bring the interview appointment letter
  • Bring their vaccination records
  • There will be a fee for vaccines administered
  • An X-ray will be performed (waived if pregnant)
  • A complete physical exam will be performed

The Visa Interview Process

The Non-US citizen spouse will be required to attend an interview at the embassy of consulate abroad before their visa is approved. The US citizen spouse may attend the interview but it is not required.

  • The interview can last for as little as 10 minutes or up to an hour depending upon your specific case.
  • You will take an oath under US law to tell the truth, and it is very important that your relative answer every question as truthfully as possible.
  • Bring documentation to prove strong ties and a relationship with you, the petitioner. (i.e. phone bills, letters, emails etc.)
  • If the consulate officer approves your immigrant visa application, you will be issued an immigrant visa that allows them to become a US permanent resident (green card holder).
  • You will become a U.S permanent resident only when you enter the U.S at a port of entry, until this time, you only have an immigrant visa that is valid up to 6 months from the interview date.
  • If you cannot immigrate to the U.S within the 6 month time frame, then your immigrant visa will expire, and the I-130 process must start all over again.
  • At the bottom of either a CR-1 Spouse Visa or IR-1 Spouse Visa is the following sentence, “Upon Endorsement Serves As Temporary I-551 Valid For One Year.”
  • The endorsement is a standard CBP admission stamp with applicable information written in by the officer. This allows the visa itself to act as a temporary green card before the actual green card arrives in the mail.
  • Additionally, if you are a CR-1 visa holder, the green card will only be valid for two years (conditional green card). Within ninety days before the green card expires, you will have to file an I-751 form for removal of conditions.

CR1/IR1 Port of Entry Process

  • When your flight lands, must get in the line for visitors (even if your U.S. spouse is traveling with you).
  • You are still considered a nonimmigrant until you receive the I-551 stamp in your passport.
  • Bring your entire I-130 petition and CR1/IR1 visa application with you.
  • CBP officer will take your fingerprints and ask you to provide the sealed medical envelope from the civil surgeon.
  • After the CBP officer reviews your passport and documents, they’ll stamp the visa with an I-551 that proves you are a lawful permanent resident.
  • Your green card and SSN (if you applied for one) will arrive in the mail in 2-3 weeks.

Read more about the CR1/IR1 port of entry process.

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2 Comments on "CR1/IR1 Visa Process: Form I-130 Petition"

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Susan Barton
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I am an American citizen married to a Mortocan man. We’ve gone through all procedures, paid all fees etc. we started this process May 9 of 2014 and I have yet to get approval for my husband to come here with me in America! He did his medical testing and had his first interview but they said they found THC in is blood so they made him get tested every four months for a year. All test were negative of course because he doesn’t do any drugs! After this they told him come back for more blood work and have… Read more »
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