Proudly Serving Dallas, FT.Worth, San Antonio, Houston.
Proudly Serving Dallas, FT.Worth, San Antonio, Houston.
With the advent of various social media platforms and dating sites, transnational relationships are becoming more popular. More and more U.S. citizens are forming strong romantic bonds with foreign nationals, which often leads to marriage.
But following such marriages, many newlyweds may find it difficult to begin their lives together in the U.S. due to immigration law restrictions that work against the foreign spouse.
As they would soon find, marriage to a U.S. citizen alone does not qualify a foreign national for entry into the United States. The foreign spouse would have to obtain an immigrant visa that would allow them to relocate to the U.S. permanently. There are different immigrant visas available for the spouses of U.S. citizens. But the most appropriate one for couples who have been married for a short while is the CR-1 spousal visa.
The CR-1 conditional residence visa is granted to spouses of U.S. citizens whose marriages were below two years at the time of their application. It would allow your spouse to enter the U.S. lawfully. Upon their arrival and admission into the U.S., they are issued a conditional green card that allows them to live and work in the U.S. for two years. After this time, your spouse can apply to become a lawful permanent resident.
As the U.S. citizen spouse in a new transnational marriage, you have an important role to play in the immigration of your spouse. The process could be complex to navigate as it involves a lot of documentation. Mistakes in the application could further delay your reunion. This guide summarizes the CR-1 application process and eligibility requirements to help you avoid such issues.
For your spouse to qualify for this immigrant visa, you must meet several requirements, including the following:
You both must be legally married.
As your spouse’s sponsor, you must be over the age of 18 (otherwise, you cannot sign the Affidavit of Support).
Your principal place of residence must be in the U.S.
The steps in the CR-1 visa application process are summarized below.
The CR-1 application process begins with you, the U.S. citizen spouse. You must complete and file an immigrant petition- Form I-130 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ( USCIS) on behalf of your spouse. This form is used to establish the qualifying family relationship between you and your spouse. It is usually filed with several documents, including the following;
Proof of your U.S. citizenship, such as your birth certificate or naturalization certificate
A copy of your valid marriage certificate
Evidence that any previous marriage has been legally terminated, e.g., a divorce decree or death certificate of your former spouse (if applicable)
Evidence to show that your marriage is authentic and not a sham contracted to get immigration benefits.
Ensure you complete the form accurately and provide all the documents requested by the USCIS. Any issues at this stage could adversely affect the outcome of the entire process. You must do all you can to ensure you get things right. Feel free to contact an immigration attorney for help if you have issues completing or filing the petition.
Once the immigrant petition is approved, the application is moved to the National Visa Center (NVC). At this point, Your foreign national spouse would need to file Form-DS-260, which is the online application for the immigrant visa and other relevant documents.
Once the NVC has all the documents, they will notify you and the applicant of their interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Your spouse must attend the interview with all the relevant documents, including the following.
Affidavit of support (which you, the citizen spouse, will provide)
Completed medical examination forms issued by an approved physician to show that the applicant is in good health and has undergone the required vaccination.
Your marriage certificate and anything else that proves the legitimacy of your marriage. If the consular officer suspects marriage fraud or has insufficient evidence that your marriage is authentic, they may deny the application.
There are other immigrant visa documents that your spouse may require depending on the circumstances. An Immigration Attorney in Texas can provide a personalized document checklist to ensure nothing is omitted.
After the consular officer approves the CR-1 spouse visa, the applicant will be issued the visa and a sealed package. This package must remain sealed. It should only be opened by a U.S. immigration officer at the port of entry. If the package is opened, your spouse may be denied entry into the U.S.
Once your spouse is cleared at the port of entry, they will be admitted as conditional permanent residents. They will receive their conditional permanent resident card in the mail shortly.
There are many costs associated with CR1 visa applications. They include the following:
Form I-130 USCIS filing fee – $535
Affidavit of Support fee – $120
Immigrant Visa Application fee (Form DS-260) – $325
Medical examination fees (to be paid to the examining physician).
Given the expenses associated with this procedure, it is important that you avoid any mistakes that could lead to a denial, cause you to begin the process afresh, and pay fresh fees. You can save yourself the stress and expense by getting an immigration lawyer to help you get things right from the get-go.
Although they are both spousal visas, the CR-1 visa differs from the IR1 visa. The IR1 visa applies to foreign spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married for more than two years. Unlike the CR-1 visa that leads to conditional permanent resident status, those who obtain an IR1 immigrant visa will attain lawful permanent residency upon their arrival in the U.S. They will be issued a green card that is valid for ten years.
Being separated from your spouse due to immigration restrictions is difficult. The complex immigration system does not make it any easier, as little mistakes could prolong your separation. Our competent immigration attorneys at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, can help make things easier and avoid issues that could delay the application, further keeping you apart.
We understand why applications get denied during consular processing. We can oversee the CR-1 application and prepare the necessary documentation on your behalf. We can also guide your spouse through the type of questions that USCIS officers ask at the interview to improve their chances of success.
If you’re engaged to a foreign national, and you’d prefer to get married in the U.S., our nonimmigrant visa lawyer can also help your fiancé enter the U.S. on a temporary nonimmigrant visa and guide you on how to make their stay permanent.
Contact our office today for more information about CR1 visas and other immigration processes. Let us help you reunite with your spouse.