What Is a CR1 Visa?
Reviewed by Carina Jenkins, J.D.
Marriage is a wonderful institution, but it can be complicated if one half of the partnership isn’t a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
However, there's a solution called the CR1 visa, which allows the happy couple to live together in the United States.
If you’ve been married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident for less than two years, you may apply for a CR1 visa. It’s also known as a conditional resident visa because you’ll need to live in the United States for at least two years before you’re granted permanent residency status. The visa allows you to enter the country as the spouse of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. If you divorce within those two years, your visa will be revoked.
To qualify for a spouse visa, you must meet these requirements:
- You must be legally married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- You must have entered the marriage in good faith and not to obtain immigration benefits.
- You don't have any criminal or immigration violations that would prevent you from entering the United States.
- Your spouse must be willing and able to sponsor you financially.
The process may vary depending on your circumstances and your spouse’s location. Here’s a general overview of the steps:
Step 1: Spouse Files Petition
Your spouse files an I-130 petition for an alien relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS will review your petition and supporting documents and inform you of its decision. As of January 2024, the filing fee for the I-130 petition is $535.
Step 2: Pay Fees and Submit Application Forms
If your petition is approved, your case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will issue you a case number and instruct you to pay the visa fees and submit the application forms and required documentation. The visa fees include the immigrant visa and alien registration fee ($325) and the affidavit of support fee ($120). The application forms include the DS-260 online immigrant visa application and the I-864 affidavit of support. You'll need your passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, police certificates, medical examination results and other relevant documents. You must submit all the documents electronically through the NVC's online portal.
Step 3: Attend Interview
After the NVC reviews your application and documents, it'll schedule an interview for you at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country (or wherever you live). The purpose of the interview is to verify your identity, your relationship and your eligibility for the CR1 visa. You’ll receive a notification of the date and time, along with a list of other documents you need to bring with you.
Step 4: Travel to the U.S. With Documents
If your interview is successful, you’ll be issued a CR1 visa. You’ll receive your passport with the visa stamp and a sealed envelope containing your immigration documents. Please don’t open the envelope as it’s only for the immigration officials at the port of entry. You must travel to the United States within your visa’s validity period, which is usually six months from the date of issuance.
Step 5: Arrive in the U.S. and Receive Green Card
Immigration officials at your port of entry into the United States will open the sealed envelope and verify your information. If everything is in order, they’ll admit you as a conditional permanent resident and stamp your passport with the date of admission and the expiration date of your conditional status. You’ll also receive your green card by mail within a few weeks.
A marriage visa grants you the same rights and responsibilities as a permanent resident, such as:
- Living and working in the United States
- Traveling in and out of the country without any limitations
- Applying for a Social Security number and a driver's license
- Accessing public benefits and services, such as health care and education
- Paying taxes and obeying the laws of the United States
However, you also have some other obligations, such as:
- Maintaining a valid marriage with your spouse
- Not committing any crimes or immigration violations
- Applying to remove the conditions on your residence before the expiration date of your conditional status
The processing time depends on several factors. These include the current workload of the USCIS, the NVC and the U.S. embassy or consulate, as well as the completeness and accuracy of your application and documents and the outcome of your background check and medical examination. According to the latest data, the average processing time ranges from 13.5 to 15 months if your spouse is a U.S. citizen and 33 to 37 months if they’re a green card holder.
You can check the status of your case online through the USCIS, NVC and CEAC websites. You can also contact the USCIS, NVC and U.S. embassy or consulate for any inquiries or updates on your case.
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