Permanent Residence for Spouse who is outside the US (IR-1, CR-1)
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Permanent Residence for Spouse who is outside the US (IR-1, CR-1)
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Spouse Green Card – Permanent Residence for Spouse who is outside the US (IR-1, CR-1)

How Does My Spouse (Husband/Wife) Get a CR-1 Spouse Green Card?

The first step in the CR-1 Spouse Green Card process is to file a Petition for Alien Relative USCIS Form I-130 for your spouse (husband or wife) to immigrate to the United States.

Sometimes a U.S. citizen living abroad can file a CR-1 Spouse Visa petition at an U.S. embassy or consulate (post).

To find out whether you can file a petition at a specific post abroad, you must ask that post. Here is the list.

What is a “Spouse” in the context of a CR-1 Spouse Green Card?

A spouse is a legally wedded husband or wife. This includes same sex couples.

Merely living together does not qualify a marriage for immigration. Common-law spouses may qualify as spouses for immigration, but only if the laws of the country where the common-law marriage occurs recognizes common-law marriages and grants them all the same rights and obligations as a traditional marriage.

In cases of polygamy, only the first spouse may qualify as a spouse for immigration.

Minimum Age Requirement for the Petitioner (US Citizen) for the CR-1 Spouse Green Card:

There is no minimum age to file a petition for a cr-1 spouse visa. However, you must be 18 years of age and have a domicile in the U.S. before you can sign the Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, and this form is required for a CR-1 Spouse Visa for spouses and other relatives of U.S.  sponsors.

U.S. Domicile Is Required for the CR-1 Spouse Green Card

You must have a domicile (residence) in the United States  before you are eligible to receive a CR-1 Spouse Visa. This is because a U.S.  domicile is required to file an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, and this form is required for all Spouse of a U.S. Citizen (CR-1 & IR-1) immigration cases.

What Does the National Visa Center Do in the CR-1 Spouse Green Card process?

After a USCIS office in the United States  approves the petition, it sends the CR-1 Spouse Visa petition to the National Visa Center (NVC). When an applicant’s priority date meets the most recent Qualifying Date, the NVC will contact the applicant and petitioner with instructions for submitting the appropriate processing fees. After the appropriate processing fees are paid, the NVC will again contact the applicant and petitioner to request that the necessary immigrant visa documentation be submitted to the NVC.

If you ARE working with an attorney, the NVC will take the following steps:

Assigns a case number to the CR-1 Spouse Green Card petition.

Send the Affidavit of Support processing fee bill and the immigrant visa fee bill to the attorney.

After the Affidavit of Support processing fee is paid, the NVC will send the Affidavit of Support Process and the Applicant Document Process instructions to the attorney.

After the Affidavit of Support and Applicant documents are submitted to the NVC, the NVC will review the information submitted for technical correctness and completeness.

After reviewing the submitted documentation, and the CR-1 Spouse Visa file is complete with all the required documents, the NVC will send the petition to the embassy or consulate where the applicant will apply for a visa when the case file is complete. For certain embassies/consulates, the NVC will schedule the applicant’s interview.

Approximately one month before the applicant’s scheduled interview appointment with a consular officer, all interested parties (applicant, petitioner, and attorney) will receive an appointment letter containing the date and time of the applicant’s CR-1 Spouse visa interview along with instructions for obtaining a medical examination.

If you are NOT working with an attorney, the NVC will take the following steps:

Assigns a case number to the petition.

Send Form DS-3032, Choice of Address and Agent, to the applicant and the Affidavit of Support processing fee bill to the petitioner.

After the applicant selects an agent, the NVC will send the immigrant visa processing fee bill to the agent. Note: The agent does not need to be an attorney.

After the immigrant visa application processing fee has been paid, the NVC will send instructions to the agent, which explain the Applicant Document Process.

After the Applicant documents are submitted to the NVC, the NVC will review the information submitted for technical correctness and completeness.

After the Affidavit of Support processing fee is paid, the NVC will send an instruction letter to the petitioner, which explains the Affidavit of Support Process.

After the Affidavit of Support documents are submitted to the NVC, the NVC will review the information submitted for technical correctness and completeness.

After reviewing the submitted documentation, and the file is complete with all the required documents, the NVC will send the petition to the embassy or consulate where the applicant will apply for a CR-1 Spouse Visa when the case file is complete.

For certain embassies/consulates, the NVC will schedule the applicant’s interview.

Approximately one month before the applicant’s scheduled interview appointment with a consular officer, all interested parties (applicant, petitioner, and third-party agent, if applicable) will receive an appointment letter containing the date and time of the applicant’s CR-1 Spouse Visa interview along with instructions for obtaining a medical examination.

Note: It is important to follow instructions from the NVC carefully. Send the NVC documentation (or paying fees) when they were not requested by the NVC will result in a delay in processing.

How Do I Pay the Fees for the National Visa Center (NVC) Services?

The NVC sends bills for certain fees at the appropriate time in the immigrant visa process. It sends bills for these services to the following people:

  • Bill for processing the I-864, Affidavit of Support to the petitioner
  • Bill for immigrant visa processing to the agent

The NVC sends a correctly addressed, return envelope with the bills.

Remember these important things:

  • It is important that you use the return envelope provided to you, when paying the fees
  • Don’t forget to put the correct postage on the envelope
  • Don’t pay the bill until the NVC tells you to do so
  • Don’t send payments to the NVC at Portsmouth, New Hampshire

For further information see National Visa Center.

Upgrading a Petition – If You Were an LPR and Now are an American Citizen

If you filed a petition for your spouse when you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR), and now you are an U.S. citizen, you must upgrade the petition from family second preference (F2) to immediate relative (IR). You can do this by sending proof of your citizenship to the National Visa Center (NVC). To prove that you are a U.S.  citizen, you can send:

  • A copy of the biodata page of your U.S. passport; or
  • A copy of your certificate of naturalization

If you are now a U.S.  citizen, you must file separate immigrant visa petitions for each of your children.  If you upgrade a family second preference (F2) petition for your spouse and you did not file separate petitions for your children when you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR), you must do so. A child does not have derivative status in an immediate relative (IR) petition. This is different from the family second preference (F2) petition.  A child is included in his/her parent’s F2 petition.  A child is not included in his/her parent’s IR petition.

Applying for a CR-1 Spouse Green Card:

An appointment package is sent to the agent or the applicant. (See note below.) The appointment package gives the applicant an interview date and tells you the specific requirements of the visa. It includes instructions on where to go to have the required medical examination. During the interview process, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. In general, the following is required:

  • Passport(s) valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States
  • Birth certificate
  • Divorce or death certificate of any previous spouse
  • Marriage certificate
  • Police certificate from all places lived since age 16
  • Medical examination
  • Evidence of financial support. A completed  Form I-864 Affidavit of Support from petitioner/ sponsor is required.
  • Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, Form DS-230, both Part I and Part II
  • Two immigrant visa photos
  • Proof of the marriage and the husband/wife relationship
  • Payment of immigrant processing fees, as explained below

An applicant may bring marriage photographs and other proof that the marriage is genuine. Documents in foreign languages should be translated. The consular officer may ask for more information.

Take clear, legible photocopies of civil documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, to the immigrant visa interview. Original documents can then be returned to you.

Note: The National Visa Center sends appointment packages to the agent for applicants in certain countries when the petitions are filed in the United States. The embassy or consulate sends appointment packages to applicants in all other countries. It also sends appointment packages to all applicants whose petitions are already at the embassy or consulate.

Fees – How Much Does the CR-1 Spouse Green Card Cost?

  • Filing an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, form I-130 – $420
  • NVC – Affidavit of Support Processing Fee – $88.00
  • NVC – Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee – $230.00
  • Medical examination (costs vary from depending on Embassy)
  • Fingerprinting fees, if applicable
  • Other costs may include translation and photocopying charges, fees for getting the documents you need for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.) and travel expenses to go to the embassy or consulate for the interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.

Vaccination Requirements for the CR-1 Spouse Green Card

United States immigration law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations prior to the issuance of an immigrant visa. Panel physicians who conduct medical examinations of immigrant visa applicants are required to verify that immigrant visa applicants have met the vaccination requirements.

Does a Child Have Derivative Status?

No. A child does not have derivative status in an immediate relative (IR) petition. This is different from the family second preference (F2) petition. A child is included in his/her parent’s F2 petition. A child is not included in his/her parent’s IR petition.

If you are a U.S.  citizen, you must file separate immigrant visa petitions for each of your children. If you upgrade a family second preference (F2) petition for your spouse and you did not file separate petitions for your children when you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR), you must do so now.

Remember that children born abroad after you became a U.S. citizen may qualify for U.S.  citizenship. They should apply for U.S.  passports. The consular officer will decide whether your child is a U.S.  citizen and can have a passport. If the consular officer decides your child is not U.S. citizen, the child must apply for an immigrant visa if he/she wants to live in the U.S.

Termination of All Previous Marriages

U.S.  law does not allow polygamy. If you were married before, you and your spouse must both show that you ended (terminated) all previous marriages before your current marriage. The death and divorce documents that show termination of marriages must be legal and verifiable in the country that issued them. Divorces must be final. In cases of legal marriage to two or more spouses at the same time, or marriages overlapping for a period of time, you can file only for your first spouse.

What Is Conditional Residence?

If you have been married for less than two years when your spouse enters the United States  on an immigrant visa, the permanent resident status is considered “conditional.” The immigrant visa is a CR ( conditional resident ) visa, not an IR ( immediate relative ) visa.

You and your spouse must apply together to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to remove the “condition” within the ninety days before the two year anniversary of your spouse’s entry into the United States  on an immigrant visa. The two-year anniversary date of entry is the date of expiration on the alien registration card (green card). See  How Do I Remove the Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage?

How Long Does the CR-1 Spouse Green Card process Take?

The length of time varies from case to case according to its circumstances, and cannot be predicted for individual cases with any accuracy. Some cases are delayed because the applicants do not follow instructions carefully. Sometimes the petitioner cannot meet Affidavit of Support requirements. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer.

What Can Be Done If my CR-1 Spouse Green Card Petition Gets Lost?

We don’t want this to happen, but occasionally it does. Files can get misfiled; shipments of CR-1 Spouse Visa files have been lost. Usually a misfiled petition can be located, but in an emergency an embassy or consulate can issue a visa from the computer record and an original Notice of Action approval (Form I-797) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Give the consular section time to locate the file, and it probably will. But all is not lost if the petition is really gone. Be sure to keep all correspondence you receive from the USCIS.

What If the Applicant Is Ineligible for a CR-1 Spouse Green Card?

Certain conditions and activities may make you, the applicant, ineligible for a CR-1 Spouse Green Card. Examples of these ineligibilities are:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Having HIV/AIDS
  • Overstaying a previous visa
  • Practicing polygamy
  • Advocating the overthrow of the government
  • Submitting fraudulent documents

The consular officer will inform you if you are ineligible for a visa, whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility and what the waiver procedure is. See Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas for more information.



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