What is a Spousal Visa?
A Spousal Visa (officially known as a “CR1 Visa or IR1 Visa) is an immigrant visa that allows the foreign spouse of a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident to immigrate to the United States. While the speed of Spousal Visa processing for spouses of U.S. Citizens has greatly improved within the last year, K1 Fiancee visas are still considered the quickest and simplest legal vehicle into the United States for most engaged international couples (where one of the parties is a U.S. Citizen). If you are a U.S. Citizen who is already married to a foreign national, or a U.S. Resident who is engaged/married to a foreign national, you must file for an I-130 Immigration Petition and Immigration Spousal Visa known as a CR1 or IR1 Visa.
What are the necessary steps to obtain a Spousal Visa?
There are two major steps:
1. I-130 Petition filing at the USCIS
The first step involves the filing of the I-130 Immigration Visa Petition by the U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident (also known as the “Petitioner”). This petition is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and must be sent to the appropriate USCIS Service Center, which is based upon the geographic residency of the U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident.
2. US Embassy Processing and Issuance of the Spousal Visa
Once the I-130 Immigration Visa Petition has been approved by the USCIS, the second step involves the filing of the foreign spouse’s application, the foreign spouse’s interview, and the eventual issuance of the Spousal Visa (CR1 or IR1 Visa) at a foreign U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please note that processing times for U.S. Residents are much, much longer than processing times for U.S. Citizens. A spouse of a U.S. Citizen is immediately eligible for immigration visa issuance once a petition is approved, whereas the spouse of a U.S. Resident must wait–several years–until an Immigrant Visa Number becomes available once the petition is approved.
Once the Spousal Visa (CR1 or IR1 Visa) is issued, how does it work?
The spouse is then free to enter the United States for purposes of immigration. Several months after the spouse arrives, he or she will receive a Conditional Permanent Resident Card (Conditional Green Card) or, if the couple has already been married for two years or more, a Permanent Resident Card (Permanent Green Card).
Who is eligible to file an Marriage Visa Petition for a Spouse?
U.S. Citizens or U.S. Residents who have legally married a foreign national spouse in a foreign country are eligible to file for an Marriage Visa Petition.
How Long Does it Take to Get a CR1 or IR1 Visa?
In order to determine how long it takes to get a Spousal Visa, you would add the estimated time it takes to get the I-130 Petition approved at the USCIS and the estimated time to have the visa issued at the US Embassy abroad. You can learn more about specific times by clicking here: Spousal Visa Processing Times.