USA and the UK
- What is a Marriage Green Card?
- What are the different types of Marriage Green Cards?
- What are the main requirements for an IR1 Visa?
- What is the application process for a marriage-based green card?
- The Petition Stage
- The Visa Application Process
- Medical examination and vaccinations
- What are the required documents for a marriage green card?
- What happens during the visa interview?
- How much does a marriage green card cost?
- How long does it take to get an IR1 Visa?
- Frequently asked questions
What is a Marriage Green Card?
Both the Immediate Relative Spouse visa (IR1) and the Conditional Resident Spouse visa (CR1) are immigrant visas especially designed for foreign nationals who are legally married to U.S. citizens.
Otherwise known as the Spouse Green Card, these permits are specifically designed for foreign spouses who wish to become U.S. permanent residents. Unlike the K3 Spouse Visa and other family permits, the IR1/CR1 Visa grants a permanent resident status to the foreign spouse through marriage.
With a marriage-based green card, the foreign spouse will be able to:
- Travel in and out of the U.S. for specific periods of time
- Obtain a driver’s license
- Open a bank account
- Enter into employment without needing to apply for Employment Authorization
- Study freely at an academic institution
What are the different types of Marriage Green Cards?
There are two different kinds of marriage-based green cards: the Conditional Resident Spouse Visa (CR1 Visa) and the more permanent Immediate Relative Spouse Visa (IR1 Visa).
The CR1 Visa is a conditional residence visa that is available to foreign spouses who have married their partner recently. This visa is granted on the condition that the couple stays married for at least 2 years after which the foreign spouse can then transition to an IR1 visa.
Foreign spouses who have been married to their U.S. citizen spouse for over 2 years will receive an IR1 visa that is valid for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely until he/she decides to apply for U.S. citizenship.
What are the main requirements for an IR1 Visa?
There are a number of requirements the couple will need to fulfill in order for a spouse to be eligible for the IR1 Visa/Spouse Green Card. Overall the main requirements are as follows:
- The couple is legally married and can provide a valid marriage certificate
- One of the spouses is a U.S. citizen
- The U.S. citizen spouse has a valid address in the United States
What is the application process for a marriage-based green card?
The specific type of spouse visa the foreign spouse will receive will depend on how long the couple has been married. If a couple has been married for less than 2 years, the foreign spouse will receive a CR1 visa but spouses married for over 2 years will receive an IR1 visa.
Generally, the spouse visa process is as follows:
- The U.S. citizen spouse completes Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relatives) and submits it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- The petition is processed and a decision is sent to the U.S. citizen
- If approved, the application will then be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) who will then send a package to the foreign spouse with instructions on the next steps in the application process
- The foreign spouse then needs to complete Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application)
- The foreign spouse will then need to undergo the required medical examination and necessary vaccinations
- Supporting documents are compiled to form a portfolio of evidence
- The foreign spouse attends a visa interview at their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country (f abroad) or USCIS office (if in the United States)
- After the interview, the visa applicant will receive a decision over whether or not their visa has been approved.
The Petition Stage
As mentioned above, the spouse visa application begins with the petition. The I-130 (Petition for Alien Relatives) must be completed by the U.S. citizen and submitted to the USCIS.
Usually, the petition will be processed within a few months. The USCIS will inform the petitioner of their decision. If the petition is rejected, the petitioner will be informed of the reasons for the refusal and if possible, there will be a chance to make any necessary changes before resubmitting the petition.
If the petition is approved, the next stage of the application process can begin.
The Visa Application Process
There are no caps imposed on the number of people who can receive a CR1 or IR1 visa in a year, which means that your application for the Marriage Green Card can begin as soon as the petition is accepted.
The foreign applicant will receive a packet of documents from the NVC after the petition has been accepted. This packet contains key information, including the ID invoice number and a case number which are used to start the application process. This package will contain information and instructions regarding how the foreign spouse will need to undergo a medical evaluation and receive the required vaccinations.
The DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application form must be completed and submitted to the NVC. This form can be completed online and will ask a series of questions related to the applicant’s background and their reasons for wanting to relocate to the United States.
When the form has been completed, a confirmation page and number will be displayed. This information must be printed out and included in the portfolio of evidence which you will need to submit to the NVC.
After this online form has been completed, the visa applicant will then need to schedule and attend a visa interview at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate (if abroad) or a local USCIS office if in the United States.
Medical examination and vaccinations
Immigration law states that any foreign national applying for an immigrant visa to the United States will need to complete a medical evaluation and be required to take the necessary vaccinations before they travel to the United States.
In your NVC packet, you will receive full instructions on what you need to do. It is imperative that you receive all the necessary vaccinations and complete the medical evaluation. Immigrant visa applicants who fail to do so will have their applications rejected.
You must obtain signed documents from a licensed doctor that show you have taken the required medical examination and received the vaccinations. These documents will form part of your portfolio of evidence which will need to be submitted at the visa interview.
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What are the required documents for a marriage green card?
Foreign spouses will need to provide a number of supporting documents in their visa application process. The supporting documents may include the following:
- A valid passport for more than six months after your planned entry to the U.S.
- Marriage documents. Ideally, this will be a genuine marriage certificate, but wedding albums and proof of honeymoon destinations might be sufficient
- A signed Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support from the U.S. petitioner)
- Confirmation page of DS-260 application
- Medical examination and vaccination documents
- Two photographs per individual
- Court and criminal records and/or police certificate
- If you have served in the military, you must bring your military records
What happens during the visa interview?
The interview is a necessary part of the Marriage Green Card application and is the final stage in the process.
The interviewer will ask you a series of questions about your personal circumstances and application. If the interviewer is satisfied, your passport along with the passport of all your accompanying family members (if you are sponsoring dependents, for example) will be stamped with the necessary visas.
If you are given permission to reside in the United States, you will also receive a package of information. You must not open this package under any circumstances. When you arrive in the United States, you need to give this package to the immigration border official who will open it up and inspect it to make sure that your visa is valid. If the package is opened before it reaches the immigration border official, you may be denied entry into the United States.
How much does a marriage green card cost?
The applicant will need to take into consideration a number of fees when they complete a CR1/IR1 Visa application. The fees are likely to vary depending on the country from which the application is made.
The main costs of the visa application include:
- Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relatives): $535
- Form DS-260: $445
- Biometrics Services fee: $85
- Medical examination and vaccinations fees: costs will vary
- USCIS Immigrant fee (This must be paid before you travel to the U.S.): $220
- Fees for the translation of documents: costs will vary
How long does it take to get an IR1 Visa?
There are no restrictions imposed on the number of people who can receive an IR1/CR1 Visa in a year. This means that the waiting time for a Spouse Green Card will be much shorter than for other family-based Green Cards, such as the preference relative F2A and F2B visas.
IR1/CR1 Visa applications are generally completed within ten months but oftentimes are completed within eight months.
Both these permits are designed for aliens who are married to a U.S. citizen and wish to enter the county as permanent residents.
The “IR” from IR1 stands for “Immediate Relative”. It is applicable for couples who have been married for longer than two years. If you and your spouse got married less than two years ago, you might apply for a CR1 (from “Conditional Resident”) Spousal Visa.
While they are both intended as family permits, the K3 Visa for Spouse and the IR1 Visa grant different benefits to their holders. The K3 Visa is a temporary permit with nonimmigrant intents. In other words, it grants only a limited authorized stay in the U.S. If you wish to spend more time in the country and get a green card, you should apply for an adjustment of status.
While on a K3 Visa, you can travel freely outside the U.S. However, if your marriage ends before you can get a green card, you must leave the country within 30 days. Additionally, you will be allowed to work in the U.S. only after applying for a work permit.
On the other hand, both the IR1 Visa category and the CRI1 Visa process have immigrant intents. This means that, together with your visa, you will be granted conditional legal permanent status. As a CR1 or IR1 visa holder, you can seek employment in the U.S. without applying for a work permit.
It must be noted that both visa application processes begin when your U.S. sponsor files a Form I-130. However, if you wish to apply for a K3 Visa, you must also submit a Form I-129 to the USCIS. Moreover, you may need to file an affidavit of support for both visas, to show that you do not intend to rely on U.S. public financial support.
The CR1 visa lasts for 2 years. After two years, if still married to a U.S. citizen, the foreign spouse will then need to file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions) in order to move to an IR1 visa.
IR1 visas are valid for 10 years at a time and can be renewed indefinitely or until the foreign spouse is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
At IAS, we specialize in helping happy couples live together in the U.S.
Our immigration lawyers are experienced in submitting successful Marriage Green Card applications. As a part of our service, you will be paired with one of our best legal advisors. Your dedicated expert will:
- Review your situation and if you meet the requirements
- Help you gather appropriate documentation to demonstrate your marriage is genuine
- Liaise with your partner who lives outside the U.S.
- Liaise with the USCIS
- Help you file your Petition for Alien Relative and your affidavit of support (if needed).
If you are ready to start your journey through your Marriage Green Card application, one of our attorneys will be happy to discuss your case.
Get in touch today. You can call us on +1 844 290 6312 or ask for a free call back from our immigration experts.