IR1 and CR1 Immigrant Visas

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Introduction

IR1/CR1 Visas are immigrant visas issued to foreign spouses of U.S. Citizens. If you follow this process, the foreign spouse will complete the visa process completely outside the US, and then arrive in the US and become a Permanent Resident immediately. Once the immigrant visa holder enters through a US Port of Entry, he or she will receive a Green Card in the mail (at their US address) within a few weeks. Additionally, sometimes the immigrant visa holder will have their passport stamped at the Port of Entry with an I-551 stamp (indicated their Legal Permanent Residency Status).


To obtain either visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be legally married. Living together does not qualify as a marriage for immigration purposes. Unmarried partners are ineligible to sponsor visas to the United States.
  • You must be 18 years old before you can sign the Affidavit of Support, which is a form that will be required later in the process.

The spouse in the U.S is the Petitioner and the spouse in the foreign country is the Beneficiary. This page mainly focuses on IR1 or CR1 visa process where petitioner completes entire process most of time staying in the United States. When petitioner files for IR1 or CR1 visa at overseas consulate it is termed as Direct Consular Filing.

For statistics on the numbers of immigrant visas issued by the U.S., broken down by country, see: The U.S. Department of State Visa Statistics page. For 2007, Table VIII -- Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas Issued (by Area of Birth): Fiscal Year 2007 -- breaks down IR-1s and CR-1s by country.


Differences Between IR1 and CR1 Visas

  • IR1 (IR stands for "Immediate Relative") Visas entitle their holder to receive Permanent Residency within the United States for a period of 10 years (may be renewed)
  • CR1 (CR stands for "Conditional Residency") Visas entitle their holder to receive "Conditional" Permanent Residency within the United States for a period of 2 years

The deciding factor on which visa an applicant is issued (IR1 versus CR1 visa) is the amount of time that they have been married at the time the visa is issued. If an applicant has been married to their US Citizen spouse for a period of two years or greater they will be issued an IR1 Visa. If they have been married less than two years they will be issued a CR1 Visa. A CR1 Visa will result in the applicant obtaining "conditional" permanent residency within the US and after a period of two years the applicant can apply to "Remove Conditions" 90 days before the conditional permanent resident card expires and they will be issued a regular 10 year green card.


Document Collection

All of the following documents and information will be required during the course of Immigration Process. Not every document below is required for each application, however they will all be required over the span of the entire process.

Original documents should never be submitted to USCIS, however originals should be presented at all personal interviews. All foreign language documents must be translated and certified as valid English translations. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator that states that the:

  • Translation is accurate, and
  • Translator is competent to translate.

The NVC requires documents as original or certified copy. Certified copies are copies certified by issuing agency and not by a notary. Sometimes it is easy to request duplicate original from issuing agency then having certified by them.

Your foreign spouse may required to show original documents at a time of interview.


Petitioner’s (USC) Documents:

  • Cover Letter (See example at: I-130 Cover Letter )
  • 2 Passport Style Color Photos (See Specifications)
  • Birth Certificate
  • US passport
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Prior Marriage Termination Documentation (Divorce decree(s), Death certificate(s) etc. if applicable)
  • Employment Letter
  • Last 3 years of personal tax returns (i.e. Federal IRS Form 1040) Best to have tax transcripts from the IRS
  • Last 3 years of W-2s
  • Evidence of Assets: Deeds, Bank Account statements, etc. (Needed if petitioner does not clear the poverty threshold and needs to count assets toward this threshold)

Beneficiary’s (Foreign Spouse)Documents:

  • 3 Passport Style Color Photos (See Specifications)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Copy of current and valid Passport (all pages)
  • Police Certificate(s)
  • Prior Marriage Termination Documentation (Divorce certificate(s), Death certificate(s) etc. if applicable)
  • Military Records (if applicable)
  • Court and Prison Records (if applicable)
  • Deportation Documentation (if applicable)


Evidence of Bona fides of Marriage

(include as many as apply to you)

  • 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 IM 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


IR1 or CR1 Visa Application Process

The first step to bring your spouse to the U.S is to file the I-130 (Immigrant Visa Petition) with the USCIS. This form will be processed for approval and sent to the National Visa Center for further processing. Then petition will be forwarded to the embassy nearest the beneficiary. That embassy will collect the necessary information and conduct a visa interview where an IR1 or CR1 visa may be issued.


USCIS Processing

For more information about the USCIS process, see:


Note that USCIS and NVC may ask for the same documents. If NVC requests a document that you have already sent to USCIS, comply with the request or you will get a Request for Evidence and will be delayed. NVC requires their own copy.

NVC Processing

Consulate Processing

For information on interview questions, see Consular Interview Questions.


U.S. Entry

You must pay the $165 fee online using USCIS ELIS after you receive your immigrant visa package from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad (including Canada and Mexico) and before you depart for the United States.

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