IR1 Visa and CR1 Visa cover photo

CR-1 visas and IR-1 visas are spousal visas that foreign residents can get when marrying a U.S. citizen. Although they are similar in that your spouse can secure a green card, there are some significant differences. In this article, you will learn whether CR1 or IR1 is right for you. You will also learn about the application process, timelines, required documents and find answers to the commonly asked questions.

What Is CR-1 Visa?

A Conditional Resident Visa or CR1 is a type of spouse visa that a foreign resident can obtain when marrying a U.S. citizen. CR1 is available to spouses who have been married to their partners for less than two years. This visa is conditional because, after two years of living in the U.S., the visa holder must apply to remove conditions from their green card. If the application to remove conditions is successful, they will receive a 10- year permanent resident card.

CR-1 Visa Eligibility: You must be married to a U.S. citizen for less than two years.

CR-1 Visa Sponsor Requirements: Your U.S. citizen spouse must be able to sponsor or co-sponsor your CR visa.

What Is IR-1 Visa?

Immediate Relative Visa or IR1 is another spousal visa you can obtain if you are married to a U.S. citizen. IR1 is only for foreign spouses married to a U.S. citizen for more than two years. You do not have to remove conditions on IR-1 green cards as they automatically gain a 10-year permanent resident card.

IR-1 Eligibility: You must be married to a U.S. citizen for over two years.

IR-1 Visa Sponsor Requirements: Your U.S. citizen spouse must be able to sponsor your IR1 visa.

Detailed IR-1/CR1 Visa Sponsor Requirements

To sponsor your foreign spouse for a CR-1 or IR-1 visa category, you must meet a list of requirements and apply through a process known as consular processing.

  • The sponsor must be a legal permanent resident (green card holder) or a U.S. citizen;
  • Your marriage must be legitimate and have a valid marriage certificate. You must support the legitimacy of the marriage with relevant documentation;
  • The sponsor must be able to financially support the spouse to which they must pledge in the affidavit of support. To meet this requirement, the spouse must have income at or above 125% of the federal poverty level, usually around $23,000. However, this financial requirement will vary depending on which state you live in, and on whether your spouse has a child or not; and
  • The sponsor must live in the U.S. and have proof of U.S. domicile. If the sponsor is outside of the U.S., they must show evidence that soon they will return to the U.S. with their spouse.

If your sponsor does not satisfy the IR1 and CR1 visa income requirements, it is possible to use a joint sponsor. A joint sponsor is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident who agrees to take on financial co-responsibility and support a CR1 or IR1 applicant.

IR-1 And CR-1 Visa Costs

When applying for a CR-1 or an IR-1 visa, you must account for various costs.

  • $535 for filing an immigrant petition for an alien relative, Form I-130;
  • $325 for processing an immigrant visa application, Form DS-260;
  • $30-$300 for medical examination in the country where you are applying from. The costs vary significantly from country to country;
  • $$$ for other expenses that are related to the application process. This can include vaccinations, photocopying charges, translations, and fees for documents required for your application (passport, police certificate, etc.). It would be best if you also considered the costs of traveling to the U.S. embassy or consulate for the interview.

You can successfully manage immigration expenses by researching the cost of the entire process before applying. That way, unexpected fess will not catch you by surprise.

How To Apply for a CR-1 or IR-1

Applicants need to submit CR-1 or IR-1 applications to your nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. This is consular processing. Below you will find a detailed explanation of the IR-1/CR-1 visa process:

1. Check Your Eligibility

Before looking up the required forms and filling them out, ensure your spouse is eligible for a green card. You also must ensure that the sponsor can meet the requirements and assess whether you will need a joint sponsor.

2. Fill Out I-130

You must fill out and submit Form I-130 with evidence proving your sponsor’s U.S. citizenship or legal permanent residency. Also, attach a copy of your marriage certificate and proof showing your marriage is legitimate. You can do so by having a lease together, a co-owned car, shared bank accounts, etc.

If you or your spouse were married before, you must provide evidence showing that that marriage has ended.

3. Fill out DS-260 and I-864

If your application is approved, it will be moved to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. You will then receive a package of required application forms. One of the forms will be DS-260, the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. You will have to fill out the forms and provide additional documents.

Your spouse will have to provide identification documents such as a passport copy. The spouse must also attach certified copies of the marriage, birth, and police certificates. The sponsor must fill out Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, that proves their financial status and whether they qualify as a sponsor.

4. Submit Forms and Documents to NVC

Submit your forms and documents to the NVC. After that, you will receive details about your interview appointment. The interview will take place at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.

5. Medical Examination

Before attending the interview, you must complete a medical examination. An embassy-approved physician must perform your medical examination. You can find a suitable doctor on your embassy’s website.

6. Attend Interview

The interview can take several hours, and you will have to bring the required documents for review by the visa officer. The officer will assess the documentation and ask questions about the legitimacy of your marriage to determine whether your spouse is eligible for a spousal visa. Again, it is essential to note that you will answer questions under oath.

7. Receive Visa

If you were successful at the interview stage, you should receive the visa anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the location of your application. The visa will be in your passport. You will also receive a sealed envelope containing all your documents. This envelope is to be opened by the immigration officer at the port of entry to the U.S. You should never open the envelope yourself.

8. Validity

Your CR-1 or IR-1 visa will be valid for six months starting from the date when you completed your medical exam. Your U.S. spouse visa will then be valid for additional 12 months after it is reviewed and approved by the border officer. The government will send the green card to you within those 12 months.

9. For CR-1 Holders Remove Conditions

For CR-1 visa holders: Your spouse’s visa is only valid for two years, and you must remove conditions within 90 days of the expiration date. To remove conditions, you need to apply using Form I-751.

Documents Required For A CR1 And IR1 Visa

As you already know, the entire spousal visa application process requires you to submit numerous documents. Below is a list of documents that you will generally need to present at one point in your application process:

  • Form I-130;
  • Form DS-260;
  • Cover letter;
  • Marriage certificate and other documents as proof of your marriage;
  • Documents showing that your previous marriage(s) has ended, if applicable;
  • Standard-sized passport photos;
  • U.S. passport or other proof of permanent residency;
  • Forms for medical exams;
  • Sponsorship documents like Form I-864; and
  • Other documents depending on your background.

CR-1 And IR-1 Visa Interview Questions

At your spousal visa interview, you will be asked various questions by the visa officer. These questions will largely vary depending on your circumstances, but you should be ready for the following questions:

  • How long have you been together?
  • Was your spouse married to someone else before you?
  • Do you know the full names of your spouse’s parents?
  • Where did you first meet?
  • What religion is your spouse?
  • Do you get along with your spouse’s children?
  • What is the occupation of your spouse?
  • Why don’t you want to live in your native country?
  • Where do you plan to live in the U.S.?

IR-1/CR-1 Visa Processing Times

From the moment you submit your application to when you receive the spouse visa, it can be anywhere from 6 to 11 months. Many factors affect how fast USCIS will process your application like:

  • The country where you submitted the application;
  • Events that may affect the embassy’s or consulate’s operations (ex. civil war, natural disasters, etc.);
  • The number of immigration applications submitted to USCIS and the NVC may increase the overall workload; and/or
  • The need for additional information or clarification if you incorrectly submitted your application.

You can see the most recent processing times on the USCIC website.

Timeline For CR-1 And IR-1 Applications

Below you will find a more detailed timeline of how long you might have to wait at different periods during your spousal visa application process:

  • 1-3 weeks to receive notification that USCIS has received your I-130 Form;
  • 5-8 months for USCIS to decide on your application. If approved, USCIS will transfer your application to the NVC;
  • 3-5 weeks for NVC to assess your application, for your to send additional documents and forms, and for the NVC to send your application to your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate;
  • 1-3 months for your to undergo a medical exam and the necessary procedures at your local U.S. embassy or consulate (ex. interview); and
  • 2-14 days for you to receive your spousal visa.

What To Do After Approval?

If you obtained an IR-1 visa, then the only thing that you have to do is renew your green card after receiving it.

If you obtained a CR-1 visa, you must apply to remove conditions 90 days before your 2-year conditional green card expires.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have additional questions about CR1 or IR1 spouse visas, then you might find the answers that you are looking for below:

How long is a CR-1 visa good for?

The CR-1 spousal visa is only valid for two years due to its conditional residence nature. To remove the conditions, you will have to submit Form I-751. If you fail to remove the conditions by the deadline, you risk deportation.

How long does a CR-1 visa take to process?

From the initial application to the receipt of your CR1 visa, it can take anywhere from 6 to 11 months. However, many factors will affect these timelines, like the workload of USCIS and the NVC, along with the processing speeds of your local embassy or consulate.

Who is eligible for a CR-1 visa?

You are eligible for a CR-1 visa (conditional Residence Visa) if you have been married to your spouse for less than two years at the time of your arrival to the U.S. If you have been married for more than two years, then you will be eligible for an IR-1 visa (Immediate Relative Visa) instead.

How long does a CR-1 visa last?

CR1 visa is only valid for two years from your arrival date in the U.S. after that, it will expire, and you might be subject to removal proceedings. However, you can avoid letting your CR-1 visa expire by removing conditions on your green card 90 days before the expiration date.

What is CR-1 vs. IR-1 main difference?

The main difference between CR-1 and IR-1 is that the former is for foreign spouses married to their U.S. citizen partners for less than two years. The IR-1 applies to couples married for more than two years.

Which is better, K-1 vs CR-1 visa?

K-1 is usually faster than a CR-1 visa, which may affect your immigration plans. But traditionally, CR-1 applicants may benefit from higher approval rates. K1 visa holders don’t have work authorization or social security numbers until their I-485 is approved. Many other factors come into play when considering the background of your relationship and your spouse or fiancé(e).

Which is better K-3 vs. CR-1 visa?

CR-1 is considered better than a K-3 visa. K-3 is a non-immigrant spousal visa, meaning that upon arrival to the U.S. your spouse will only have temporary resident status. Your spouse will have to apply for an adjustment of status within the U.S. to remain in the country permanently. On the other hand, CR-1 is an immigrant spousal visa, meaning that your spouse can stay in the U.S. permanently. Because CR-1 is a conditional visa, you must eventually apply to remove the conditions.

Can you work on a CR-1 visa?

Yes, CR-1 visa holders can work in the U.S. if their status is valid. This type of visa, although a temporary green card, can be turned into permanent residency, under which the holder can work in the U.S.

How long does an IR-1 visa take?

You can expect to wait for 6-11 months from the moment of your application to receive your IR-1 visa. On many occasions, the wait times can be shorter or longer. This largely depends on the workload of governmental agencies and the processing speeds of foreign embassies and consulates.

What does an IR-1 visa mean on a green card?

IR1 (Immediate Relative) visa is a part of the family-based green cards the U.S. government can issue. This spousal visa type allows U.S. citizens to have their foreign spouses live and work in the U.S. permanently.

Which is better, CR-1 or IR-1 visa?

IR1 visa is superior to CR-1 because the former gives the holder an immediate 10-year green card. On the other hand, CR-1 provides the holder with only a conditional 2-year green card that you must upgrade to a 10-year permanent residency.