About this guide
This is a common-case Direct Consular Filing (DCF) London guide for spousal visas (I-130 for IR-1/CR-1).
NOTE: Always do your own reading and research, and double check everything on the official sites. This is a GUIDE to show what to expect, not the official manual from the embassy. Read the whole guide before beginning and check out the relevant forums.
This guide originated from this thread: http://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/443127-dcf-london-i-130-for-ir1cr1-spouse-guide/ If you don't want to edit the wiki, but have suggested changes, corrections or information, you can post a comment on that thread and user lost_at_sea will add the information.
The London Embassy provides it’s own information at the following URL, and also includes links to all the required forms, a complete and very detailed checklist, and an example completed I-130 form. It also includes checklists for other immediate relatives, as the process for them would be roughly the same as found in this guide:
Pre-requisites for DCF in London for I-130 petition for Spousal CR-1/IR-1:
- USC must be resident in the UK for at least 6 months prior to the time of filing - Requirement removed in 2014, now just need to show valid visa/Resident Permit card to show legal residency in the UK for any length of time.
- USC may be on any visa, except for tourist visa, and should be able to show their UKBA entry clearance
- USC must be able to show their citizenship (either through passport or birth certificate)
- The process for obtaining the visa can be loosely split into three parts, as outlined below.
Petitioner sends I-130 package to the USCIS Office in London!
The petitioner is the USC living abroad in the UK, and the beneficiary is their partner of any nationality. The petitioner completes Step 1 (although the beneficiary must sign their G-235a form), and the beneficiary completes everything thereafter except the Affidavit of Support (I-864) which the petitioner and, if applicable, their joint-sponsor should complete.
Compile all the required forms and documents
The document checklist can be found here listed in this pdf (note that it specifies a particular order, too): https://uk.usembassy.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2015/10/i130-checklist_for_spouse.pdf
Your pack will include any of the following (*asterisk is an optional item, depending on your specific case):
- Completed I-130 form by petitioner
- Evidence of petitioner’s US citizenship (birth certificate or copy of biographic information in passport)
- Evidence of petitioner’s UK residency (photocopy of visa and entry stamp is ideal - they want to see how long you’ve had UKBA entry clearance)
- Marriage certificate (photocopy only)
- 2 x G-325a biographic information forms (one each, both with US-sized photographs attached)
- Divorce decree(s) for any previous marriages for either petitioner or beneficiary*
- E-notification form G-1145 with petitioners email*
- Record of any name-change if different from any official documentation*
- Payment form ($420)
- Ticked-off checklist
- 1 self-addressed envelope with a first-class stamp attached (this will be used to send you your NOA1 approval notification). Address to petitioner.
- Translations of any of the above if not in English*
- London does not want to see any additional documentation outside of this list, nor does it want to see any relationship evidence. Save all that for the interview.
What happens next?
You will receive your NOA1 (receipt for application) via email to the petitioner, with an attachment. It will not provide you with a case number - instead applicants are asked to check the currently processing date on the I-130 website (https://uk.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/government-agencies/dhs/uscis/i130filing-html/) and to only contact if their NOA1 date is earlier than that listed there. It's normal for it to take a week or so to get your NOA1 email.
It takes London about 1 calendar month to approve petitions (at time of writing) but this can be up to 60 days. The approval (NOA2) will come in the form of a letter sent in the self-addressed envelope you included in the package. The letter will just be a confirmation of approval and state that the beneficiary will receive further correspondence on what to do next (this will be “Packet 3”). It has a “case file number”, but this USCIS number is of little use and is not the same as your “LND number”. You will be assigned a new Department of State (DoS) number (LNDXXXXXXXXXX) when the Immigrant Visa Unit receives your approved petition.
Your LND number is your ticket to booking your medical, but as your case will not be passing through the NVC you should be able to obtain it direct from the London embassy or the DoS phone line (see contacts below) within about 3 weeks from approval (although it is likely you’ll receive your Packet 3 letter within this time, anyway). You can try using the contact form on the embassy website to contact the embassy any time after approval to request your LND, but note that although your case is being transferred from USCIS to DoS (IV Unit) likely in the same building, it may sit in a “to be processed” pile for a number of days before the other IV department has your case logged and LND assigned. DoS used to be able to supply LND number and information on interviews, but since Feb 2014, they won't. The NVC is sometimes able to provide this information, however.
What to do while you wait
- While awaiting approval (NOA2), these are things the beneficiary should consider doing in advance:
- Order police certificate(s)
- UK police certficiates can be ordered here: http://www.acro.police.uk/police_certificates.aspx
- You will also need police certificates for any other countries resided in for more than 12 months, as directed here: http://london.usembassy.gov/document_checklist.html#police_certificate
- Visit GP and obtain a vaccination record. If you are missing any vaccinations, it’s likely cheaper/easier to have your GP complete them and then get an updated vaccination history
- Vaccination requirements can be seen here: http://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/exams/ti/panel/vaccination-panel-technical-instructions.html#prevention
- Varicella (chickenpox) will be waived (whether you’ve caught chickenpox or not) as the vaccine is unavailable in the UK.
- Influenza is only required between October-March.
- Look ahead to the required documents listed below in Part 2.3 and collect these.
Packet 3 arrival to beneficiary and/or LND number obtained from embassy.
Time for the beneficiary to do their forms and have their medical!
The letter will essentially be your LND number and a link to this website: http://london.usembassy.gov/ds2001.html
An interview date will not be assigned to you until the embassy is in receipt of forms DS-260, Applicant Readiness notification (formally DS-2001), and the results of your medical exam, so...
Book your medical appointment with the approved physicians.
You can find the current contact information for the approved physicians here: http://london.usembassy.gov/immigrant-visas/medical-examination.html
- To book your appointment, you will need your LND number and your UK police certificate.
- The medical results take about 4 working days to reach the embassy.
- You don’t need to have had the medical to return the DS forms, however, you may do that before or after.
Complete DS-260 form
Compile documents required for interview
Compile the documents listed on this website that are applicable to you, and make photocopies of each (except passport and photos):
Note about domicile requirements
The petitioner will need to complete the I-864 Affidavit of Support at this point, showing the required funds to support themselves, their spouse and any other dependants. It’s common in DCF cases for the USC to no longer be resident in the US, so if this applies to you then you cannot be the sponsor unless you establish your US residency again, or show you have maintained US domicile while away, or your intent to domicile in the US. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, and the evidence of your residency may be required at the interview. London does accept joint financial sponsors.
Guidance on the I-186, residency and joint sponsorship can be found here: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/info/info_3183.html and: http://london.usembassy.gov/i864.html Make note to read the domicile requirements closely: http://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/443127-dcf-london-i-130-for-ir1cr1-spouse-guide/
Complete Applicant Readiness form (formally known as DS-2001)
This form is now submitted online, and is found via clicking "read more" in the right hand section of the instructional page (http://london.usembassy.gov/ds2001.html) and clicking again further until the applicant eventually reaches this page: http://london.usembassy.gov/iv/notification_of_applicant_readiness_form.html
It used to be the case that this form was sent as a printed form with a cover letter, that would allow you to also plea for an interview date ASAP if you had travel plans. Now that you can no longer send a cover letter, you may wish to try contacting the embassy after submitting the readiness form to notify them if you have travel plans looming: http://london.usembassy.gov/immigrant-visas/iv_contact_page.html
Tip - CEAC
Now you have your LND number, you case will also be live on the CEAC website, where you will now be able to track the progress of your visa application: https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker
What happens next?
You will now be awaiting an invitation to interview letter (“Packet 4”). Once you believe your medical results and all forms have been received, you can try contacting the embassy (via their online contact form) to enquire as to whether an interview has been assigned (see contacts below) ahead of receiving the physical letter, or again, the NVC may have this information.
Paying for the visa and courier
Previously, the physical letter outlined that you need to pay for both the courier and the fee ahead of the interview online. Now you pay the $325 visa fee at the Interview and this includes delivery to your local courier office. If you wish to have it delivered to a specific address there is an £18 additional payment required in advance.
Although not necessarily required for interview and London rarely asks to see it except in cases with red-flags, you may wish to use this wait time to compile some relationship evidence for your interview file, such as:
- Joint rental/mortgage agreement
- Holiday photos
- Wedding photos
- Jointly named bills
- Joint insurance or bank statements
- Birth certificates for any children you have together
Interview and visa!
You can read reviews of interviews from the London embassy here, to get a really clear idea of how it will go: http://www.visajourney.com/reviews/index.php?cnty=United+Kingdom&cty=&dfilter=5&topic=IR-1%2FCR-1+Visa
Roughly, these are the major things to expect:
- Aim to be at the embassy about 30 minutes before your appointment. As of Feb 2014, the embassy is allowing small electronic items into the embassy (such as mobile phones), but you should leave behind large items, baggage, etc. A nearby pharmacy called Gould’s will hold your items for a small fee. The embassy has a small cafe (not always open), but you can take in a drink or a snack. There will be a queue to enter, and may take some time. Your interview letter will be checked and you’ll be assigned a ticket number once inside beginning with I. Listen/watch for your number (it will likely not be at the exact time of the appointment on your letter).
- At the first window, your original documents and photocopies will be handed over to a clerk, along with your passport photos, passport and your fingerprints taken. Your I-864 and evidence will be checked and collected (and this is also where you domicile evidence may be requested). They will also hand you a CD with your x-ray on it from the medical. You’ll then wait again.
- At the second window, your original documents will be returned, you’ll be interviewed after swearing to tell the truth. You’ll be asked some questions about your marriage, partner and likely their family. Answer honestly to the best of your knowledge and you may be given the opportunity to share any relationship evidence you brought with you (rarely needed). Assuming the interviewer is satisfied with your responses, your visa will be approved and your passport will be held to place the visa in it.
- Your passport with visa will be delivered along with a large sealed envelope. The sealed envelope must NOT be opened under any situation, and should be taken with you on your journey to the USA in your hand luggage to be handed over at the Point of Entry (POE). The package with your passport should also inform you about paying for the USCIS Immigrant Fee ($165), which is required to be paid before production of your actual green card, which will be received a few weeks later after your US entry. Note that your visa will act as a temporary 1 year green card until you get the proper one.
Useful contact information
- At petition stage (I-130 filing) you can email the local USCIS team in London with any queries: USCIS.London@uscis.dhs.gov
- Department of State line (DoS): US 202 663 1225 (Reported in September 2014 to no longer work)
- National Visa Center (NVC): US 603-334-0700 (press 1 then 5 to speak with an operator) Hours: 7am - 12am EST, Monday to Friday
- LondonConsular@state.gov seems to work for making additional queries about interviews/adding spouse to embassy access list
- firstname.lastname@example.org is the email they provide on the I-130 checklist paperwork
- London Immigrant visa contact page: http://london.usembassy.gov/immigrant-visas/iv_contact_page.html
- https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker Progress tracker post-NOA2.
Address to mail the I-130 petition:
USCIS Field Office – London (I-130) Embassy of the United States of America 24 Grosvenor Square London W1K 6AH
- The US Embassy in London is also on twitter: @USAinUKCGCorner and they blog here: http://www.usembassy.org.uk/visaservices/
More about the USCIS Immigrant Fee:
Does the petitioner need to be at the interview with the beneficiary?
Does the petitioner need to remain in the UK until the visa is received?
Nope! The petitioner can make plans to leave as soon as they've received a receipt (NOA1) for their petition. This is actually quite common, as the petitioner often needs to leave ahead of their spouse, in order to meet the domicile requirements.
What's the difference between IR-1 and CR-1 visas?
The visas are essentially the same. You apply for them in the same method and your classification will be automatically set.
The type will be assigned upon visa issuance based on whether you have been married for 2 or more years.
If you are married for 2 years upon visa issuance, you will receive the IR-1 classification on your visa and upon entry to the USA, you'll be sent a 10 year green card.
If you are married for less than 2 years, you'll receive the CR-1 classification on your visa and be sent a 2 year conditional green card upon US entry. You'll then need to do the Removal of Conditions process in the 90 days preceding the expiry of this green card to receive your full 10 year green card.
If you enter the US on your CR-1 visa for the first time and you have just passed your 2 year wedding anniversary, notify the border agent (present your marriage certificate for proof) and your classification will be upgraded to IR-1.
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NOTE: The above information does not address the specific requirements for any given case and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.