If you or your spouse is trying to obtain a marriage-based green card, you’ll both need to learn about the CR1 spousal visa process. A CR1—or “conditional resident”—visa allows you to live and work in the United States. The CR1 visa process can be quite lengthy, so it’s best to learn as much about this process as possible in advance, especially if you intend to complete the process on your own. It can be enormously beneficial to have the help of an immigration attorney who is well-versed in U.S. immigration law to make the CR1 visa application process as simple and effective as possible.
There are three foundational requirements for one to obtain a CR1 visa:
If you have been married for over two years, an IR1 spousal visa is required, not a CR1.
If you meet the foundational requirements for this visa, read on to learn what else you’ll need to qualify and ensure the best chances of success.
The CR1 spouse visa process requires going through either a “consular process” or an “adjustment of status.” The agent conducting the consular process or adjustment of status will need to confirm the following:
There are somewhat steep costs associated with the applications and the CR1 visa itself to be aware of, and these include:
It’s best to compile an itemized list of the expenses involved beforehand so that you’ll know how to arrange your finances and to be sure you aren’t charged more than you should be. There are also miscellaneous costs associated with the consular process. In itemizing an exact cost, you’ll also need to factor in the following expenses:
The CR1 spouse visa processing time is most commonly from four to six months, but it could take even longer than a year without competent legal counsel. The exact length of time is based on which U.S. state’s service center is handling the procedure. As you can imagine, the service center for the state of Texas handles many more CR1 applications than the service center in the state of Wyoming. See an up-to-date estimate of wait times on the processing times page from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once submitted, the status and current timeline of your CR1 application can be tracked by contacting the State Department’s Visa Bulletin.
First, the spousal sponsor must submit the I-30 application form. The USCIS will take from two months to possibly over a year to process the form. Check the USCIS Visa Bulletin to see if your I-30 application was approved.
Next, the application is processed by the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC staff will notify you and your spouse of the time to file form DS-260, which is the green card application itself. It involves answering questions related to your identity as well as your work and education history.
Once they review your DS-260, the local U.S. embassy or consulate will send a letter scheduling an interview. Obtain a medical exam with an embassy-approved doctor and have the medical record ready before the date of this interview. Be sure that they know about any translation needs beforehand as well. You’ll need to bring all documentation listed above to the interview where you’ll answer questions under oath.
This is the last stage, and you may find out right then and there if your CR1 spousal visa was approved; otherwise, they most often respond within about a week. The last crucial step is to ensure that the sealed envelope containing the documents that they give to you remains sealed. This envelope is for the immigration officer at the border to open in order to ensure proper custodial record-keeping is maintained.
Before being admitted into the U.S., the visa your consular officer provides you is valid for six months. After being admitted by the border officer, it becomes valid for 12 months, and the final green card can be expected within that period.
Aside from ensuring that all of your documentation is complete and accurate and that you meet the minimum criteria, the best way to bolster your immigration case is to work with a qualified immigration lawyer. Your attorney will scour your documents to ensure that there are no errors or omissions that could delay your case or cause it to be denied. Additionally, they will manage the bulk of the work for you, keeping you informed of any necessary deadlines and any additional documentation you may need.
Doing this on your own is very time-consuming and potentially frustrating. It can also simply not work at all if honest mistakes or omissions occur. Do yourself and your spouse a favor and enlist the help of a competent immigration lawyer who can streamline this process and make sure that it has the greatest chances of success.
We also provide expert immigration-based legal services for the following:
Because even the most impeccable application not being handled by a professional could stall the process, any flaw in your documentation could delay the process beyond that crucial two-year limit. Be as responsive as possible to the USCIS Service Center. They might send you a Request for Evidence (RFE), which is likely to delay the process by 6–12 months.
There is confusion going around about K-3 visas. Since 2010, the U.S. State Department has not been processing K-3 visas, and this was still the case at the beginning of 2022. If you see any services advertising K-3 visa services, consider it a sign that you need a marriage visa expert in your corner.
The following circumstances are the most common reasons for denying or even just delaying a CR1 visa:
How pronounced any of these issues might be will vary widely between different consulates. An immigration law firm with marriage visa expertise can help coach both partners so that any basis for denial is as minimal as possible.