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spiritof1776

If I have an unused CR-1 visa in my passport, can I transit via the U.S. without forfeiting it?

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I live in Germany with my wife, a U.S. citizen. I have applied for, and will shortly receive, a CR-1 visa. She and I plan to move to the U.S. in four weeks. In two weeks, however, I need to fly to Latin America on business. All of the affordable, practicably scheduled flights involve changing planes in the U.S. I am from a country that participates in the visa waiver program (VWP). (Additionally, since I work remotely for a U.S. company, I am still in valid F-1 status, completing Optional Practical Training.) In order to take a flight that transits in the U.S., can I enter the U.S. (merely to change planes) using either VWP or my F-1 visa, without a) being denied entry, or b) forfeiting the CR-1 visa and thus jeopardizing our ability to return to the U.S. in four weeks' time?

PS This question is arguably excerpted from a longer description of my situation a few weeks back here. I hope no one considers it a brazen reposting…!

Edited by spiritof1776

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When you enter on the Cr1, you can turn around and travel back home... The stamp in your passport can be shown for reentry. Why couldn't you do that?

That being said, I've read stories of people asking to travel and not use their K1 (hit or miss, depends on the border agent). Can't remember any CR1 story.

Edited by Boston~Montreal

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K1 is a one use visa...nothing to re-enter with immediately.

A CR1 gets the permanent resident stamp on their first entry so can come and go using that. The US spouse is supposed to precede you into the US or arrive with you on the CR1 so that's the hitch in the business trip. Right? Did they not cancel the work visa when they issued the immigrant visa?

You probably should speak to the CBP supervisor at the intended airport and see what he will allow on his turf.

Edited by Nich-Nick

England.gifENGLAND ---

K-1 Timeline 4 months, 19 days 03-10-08 VSC to 7-29-08 Interview London

10-05-08 Married

AOS Timeline 5 months, 14 days 10-9-08 to 3-23-09 No interview

Removing Conditions Timeline 5 months, 20 days12-27-10 to 06-10-11 No interview

Citizenship Timeline 3 months, 26 days 12-31-11 Dallas to 4-26-12 Interview Houston

05-16-12 Oath ceremony

The journey from Fiancé to US citizenship:

4 years, 2 months, 6 days

243 pages of forms/documents submitted

No RFEs

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After you enter US for the first time (first entry), your I-551 annotation on CR-1visa in your passport with entry stamp becomes a proof of Permanent Resident status for one year, pending receipt of your conditinal Green Card that will be mailed to your US address. this I-551 annotation will allow you to re-enter the U.S. after travelling abroad. Try to enter the US first on valid CR-1 visa, then travel anywhere outside the US. Of course, You can still go to any country first if it is important to you, but make sure to enter the US BEFORE expiry date of CR-1 visa.

A machine-readable immigrant visa (MRIV) usually has the following text on it: “UPON ENDORSEMENT SERVES AS TEMPORARY I-551 EVIDENCING PERMANENT RESIDENCE FOR 1 YEAR.” When a new immigrant first enters the United States, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will stamp the passport with an admission stamp that shows permanent resident status and the date the new immigrant entered the United States.

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I think OP's question involves a layover in the U.S. but a third country as the final destination on the business trip.

Thus, the question should be: does a traveler go through immigration for a layover in the U.S.? I've never had an international layover in the U.S. between two foreign countries, so I don't know. I assume you don't unless you are from a country that requires a transit visa.

The next question is then: if the layover is long enough, will they allow him in to the U.S. for a few hours? That way he would "activate" his LPR status and get the production of the physical green card under way.

I've done this as a tourist in other countries (visited a city I had a long layover in) without a problem, but in a country like the U.S. with additional immigration matters pending, I don't think I'm qualified to give any advice.

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I think the OP's question is "Can I skip the CR1 processing and use VWP to transit the US on a business trip to a third country, even though the unused CR1 visa is already in my passport?"

Reason: Wife (USC) will not be on the business trip. She lives in Germany. Their CR1 move is in four weeks. She must enter before or with him as terms of the visa and domicile part of the I-864. She doesn't want to enter early. She wants to enter when the big move is scheduled, which is unfortunately after the business trip. He doesn't have to transit the US, but it would provide a better choice of flights.

I have heard of a few who were able to get CBP to not activate their visa until they were ready to move, but it would be gambling that the officer at that airport would be so agreeable. That's why the question should be asked of the CBP supervisor at the specific airport. Their numbers are posted on CBP website.

Edited by Nich-Nick

England.gifENGLAND ---

K-1 Timeline 4 months, 19 days 03-10-08 VSC to 7-29-08 Interview London

10-05-08 Married

AOS Timeline 5 months, 14 days 10-9-08 to 3-23-09 No interview

Removing Conditions Timeline 5 months, 20 days12-27-10 to 06-10-11 No interview

Citizenship Timeline 3 months, 26 days 12-31-11 Dallas to 4-26-12 Interview Houston

05-16-12 Oath ceremony

The journey from Fiancé to US citizenship:

4 years, 2 months, 6 days

243 pages of forms/documents submitted

No RFEs

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Nich-Nick, your summary is absolutely right. I hadn't realized that speaking to the CBP supervisor was an option, that sounds like a good idea and I'll do that today. (And will try and report back in case it proves helpful to anyone else!)

Thus, the question should be: does a traveler go through immigration for a layover in the U.S.?


I'm fairly certain the answer to this is yes. (See, for example, here.) You're quite right of course, that assumption was implicit in my question.

Did they not cancel the work visa when they issued the immigrant visa?


Just to be clear, by work visa I am assuming you mean my F-1 visa (which currently entitles me to work via OPT, but is first and foremost of course a student visa). Well, I still have the physical visa intact, but that is because it is in my old passport. As to whether it is invalidated by the issuance of the CR-1 visa I couldn't say…but is this relevant? Would using my F-1 visa afford me any different treatment for the purposes of transiting than using VWP? (If this was back last year I wouldn't have wanted to use VWP because that would end the F-1 status, but that's essentially irrelevant now since the next time I enter the U.S. after the business trip will be using the CR-1, and my OPT is ending in late June anyway.)

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I hadn't realized that speaking to the CBP supervisor was an option, that sounds like a good idea and I'll do that today. (And will try and report back in case it proves helpful to anyone else!)

Since I promised to report back, here goes. I looked up the number for the Dallas/Ft. Worth CBP and called it. After selecting an option from an automated system (if I recall correctly), I got put through to the voicemail of someone called, I believe, Dawn. I tried leaving a voicemail but after a very short time the system started talking again to say my time was up. It gave me a rerecord option which I tried, but it was unclear whether that worked. I certainly didn't receive a call back, and I will never know whether that is because Dawn didn't bother to return my call, or never got my message in the first place!

I booked the longer, costlier flight via Madrid and all went smoothly.

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Thus, the question should be: does a traveler go through immigration for a layover in the U.S.?

I don't know about the OP's original question regarding transit with an approved CR-1 visa but I wanted to answer this question, so others know for the future.

Yes, you go through US immigrations even on a layover in the US. You will also need an approved ESTA to transit through the US under the VWP.


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