What is the CR1 Visa? A complete guide

Also known as “Spousal Visa“, the benefit that is the CR1 visa is more than a simple bureaucratic procedure. It is an invaluable option for those who wish to live legally in the country with their spouse.

In this complete guide, prepared by the experts at Urbina Immigration Law, we will provide you with all the details you need to take the first step towards a shared future. From requirements and documents to deadlines and benefits, here you will find everything you need to know.

Don’t wait any longer! Evaluate your eligibility and start your path to a life full of love and opportunity in the United States. Contact us and make your dreams come true!

From CR1 to IR1: What is a spousal visa?

Spousal visas are a type of visa that allows a spouse to immigrate and reside legally in his or her partner’s country. These visas are designed to maintain and strengthen family relationships by allowing couples to reunite in a new country.

If you are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. and live abroad, you must apply for a visa at the nearest U.S . Embassy or Consulate. This process, known as “consular processing“will allow you to obtain a CR1 visa or IR1 visa.

CR1 Visa: What is it?

The CR1 Visa is a type of U.S. immigrant visa granted to foreign spouses of U.S. citizens. The special feature of the CR1 Visa is that it is issued directly abroad through consular processing. Once obtained, the spouse may enter the United States and receive a permanent resident card.

IR1 Visa: What is it?

The IR1 Visa is another type of U.S. immigrant visa for foreign spouses of U.S. citizens. Like the CR1 visa, this type of spousal visa is also issued through consular processing abroad. Like the CR1 visa, the IR1 visa grants a permanent resident card to the applicant spouse.

Difference between CR1 and IR1

When thinking about the differences for these type of spousal visa, the main difference lies in the requirements of both visas. On the one hand, the CR1 spousal visa is a benefit granted exclusively to married couples, whether of the same or different sex, with less than two years of marriage. On the other hand, we have the IR1 visa which is a benefit issued to couples with more than two years of marriage.

CR1 Spousal Visa Requirements

If you dream of joining your spouse in the United States through the CR1 visa, which is a benefit intended for married couples, it is important to know the key requirements. Among the main ones you can find:

  • Be legally married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • To obtain the CR1 visa benefit, the marriage must be less than two years old.
  • Demonstrate that the marriage is real and was not contracted for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. Do you want to know how to toast proof of marriage to guarantee your application? Consult with our attorneys at (770) 728-6615.
  • Your spouse must act as your sponsor and must file an immigrant petition on your behalf.
  • Your sponsor must demonstrate that he/she meets the income requirements or have a co-sponsor to support him/her financially.
  • Demonstrate that you are eligible under USCIS criteria to enter the United States.
A spousal visa is a type of visa that allows a spouse to immigrate and reside legally in their partner's country.
A spousal visa is a type of visa that allows a spouse to immigrate and reside legally in their partner’s country.

How to apply for a CR1 Spousal Visa?

To apply for a CR1 spousal visa through consular processing, follow the steps below. Remember that this is a complex process and it is always advisable to have the advice of an experienced immigration attorney:

Step 1 – Eligibility

First of all, make sure you are eligible to obtain a green card through the CR1 visa. The most important thing is todemonstrate that you have an authentic marriage. Your spouse must be 18 years of age or older and being “domiciled” in the United States.

Step 2 – Form I-130

The U.S. sponsor, i.e. your spouse, must complete and file Form I-130 (officially called the “Petition for Alien Relative”).

Step 3 – Verify Visa Availability

If your spousal visa is approved, you can check the Visa Bulletin to see if a green card is available. You may skip this step if you are married to a U.S. citizen. Otherwise, you may have to wait in “line”. This can take a long time.

Step 4 – Processing at the NVC

At this point, your visa will be processed by the National Visa Center (NVC) of the U.S. Department of State, where your case will be formally entered into the system. NVC will notify you of the fees and required documentation to be submitted as part of the application process.

Step 5 – Form DS-260

Officially called the“Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration“, the Form DS-260 represents the actual green card application. On this form you will answer questions about yourself, including your employment and educational history.

Step 6 – Interview

After receiving your documentation, the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate will send you a letter informing you when and where the interview will take place.

Step 7 – Medical examination

You must have a medical examination by a physician approved by the Embassy prior to attending your interview. You may consult the Embassy’s website for a list of acceptable physicians.

Step 8 – Wait

If no further inquiries are required, you can expect to receive a response immediately or within approximately one week after your interview. If your application is approved, you will receive a spousal visa and a sealed envelope with your documents. You should not open this envelope. The immigration officer at the border will be the only one authorized to do so.

How long does my CR1 visa last?

The benefit, which is the CR1 visa provided through consular processing, will be valid for 6 months after your medical examination. Once the U.S. border official admits you into the country and returns your documents, your visa will be valid for 12 months. This will allow you to travel freely in and out of the country. During that 12-month period, you can expect to receive your final green card.

What is the next step after my CR1 visa?

After obtaining your CR1 visa, if you wish to obtain permanent residency, you will need to apply for the removal of conditions from your green card. To do so, you must submit your application within 90 days prior to the second anniversary of your arrival in the United States.
Do you have a matrimonial or spousal visa and you want to know how to go about the removal of conditions process with Form I-751? Consult with our specialists now at (770) 728-6615.

Can I obtain a CR1 spousal visa if I am married to a person of the same sex?

Absolutely. Same-sex couples enjoy the same rights as different-sex couples with respect to marriage-based immigration. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was repealed in 2013, allowing federal recognition of same-sex marriages for immigration purposes. Therefore, if you meet the other requirements, you can apply for a CR1 visa regardless of the sex of your spouse.

Can I apply for a CR1 visa if my spouse is on active military duty?

Yes. You can apply for a CR1 visa if your spouse is on active military duty. There are certain special considerations and benefits available to military service members and their families.

How long does it take to obtain a CR1 visa?

Currently, as of 2021, the average process from initial application to visa issuance is approximately 10 months or more. However, this time may vary according to individual circumstances and may be shorter or longer.

The particularity of the CR1 Visa is that it is issued directly abroad through consular processing.
The particularity of the CR1 Visa is that it is issued directly abroad through consular processing.

Get Expert Advice with Urbina Immigration Law

Obtaining the assistance of an experienced attorney is crucial when processing your CR1 visa. An immigration attorney can provide you with expert advice, help you understand the legal requirements and procedures, and ensure that you submit a complete and accurate application.

Our experience will give you confidence and increase your chances of success throughout the process. Do not hesitate to seek a reliable immigration attorney to ensure you receive the best representation in your CR1 visa application. Contact Urbina Immigration Law today for expert advice!


USCIS – Form I-130

USCIS – Bringing Your Spouse to Live in the United States

U.S. Department of State National Visa Center (NVC)

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Green card by marriage in the United States, in detail

How to complete the removal of conditions process with Form I-751

Documents required for the Green Card process by marriage

Conditional residency by marriage: what happens if I divorce before permanent residency?

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