Marriage Visas (CR1) (IR1) (K3)
At the present time Homeland Security is not processing K3 spousal visa petitions. They are processing only CR1/IR1 visa petitions. A CR1 visa will be issued by the Consulate if, at the issuance date, the couple has been married less than two years. An IR1 visa will be issued if they have been married two years or more on the visa issuance date.
I realize that many immigration attorneys and “visa service” websites state that the K-3 spousal visa is an option, and if you call the USCIS or a Consulate they may tell you, “Oh yes, we are still processing K-3 visas.” The fact of the matter is K-3 visas have not been processed since February of 2010. If you will call me, I will be glad to explain why the K-3 visas are no longer being processed.
The fact that other so-called marriage visa experts are still advertising K-3 visas after these visas have not been an option for so many years should tell you something about the “expertise” of those “experts”.
The good news is that when your spouse arrives in the U.S., before she is released from the airport, Immigration will place a stamp in her passport that gives her the right to apply for a Social Security card immediately, work immediately and even take a trip outside of the U.S. immediately. Thus the visa and Green Card processes combined actually costs less than they did under the previous K3 spousal visa and also less than with a K1 fiancée visa.
Requirements of a CR1/IR1 Visa
- The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen.
- The petitioner must be legally married under the laws of the country in which the marriage took place.
- The petitioner must prove that the marriage relationship is sincere.
- The American citizen must meet the minimum income requirement or have a cosponsor who meets it.
- If the marriage was by proxy, it must have been consummated prior to the filing of the visa petition.
Visas for Unmarried Children of Foreign Spouses
As long as the marriage occurred prior to the child’s 18th birthday and the child’s visa application is filed prior to the child’s 21st birthday, the child is eligible for a CR2/IR2 dependent visa. The child must receive the visa and enter the U.S. on it prior to his or her 21st birthday.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The CR1/IR1 visa petitions are filed at one of the five USCIS Service Centers. If there are any missing documents or incorrect paperwork, you will receive a Request for Evidence (“RFE”). Each RFE will delay the approval of your CR1/IR1 visa petition, and ultimately the approval and issuance of your CR1/IR1 visa, by 6-12 months.
National Visa Center (NVC)
When the USCIS has approved the CR1/IR1 visa petition, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (“NVC”) where original documents are reviewed and background checks are performed on both the petitioner and the beneficiary. The NVC will forward the petition to the Consulate that will conduct the visa interview. The Consulate will not interview the foreign spouse until the NVC checks have been successfully completed.
U.S. EMBASSY (CONSULATE)
When the approved petition and background checks have been received by the U.S. Consulate having jurisdiction over the city in which the spouse is legally residing, the NVC will instruct the foreign spouse to undergo a medical exam at a clinic specified by the Consulate and to report for the visa interview on a specified date. If the foreign spouse passes the medical exam and the interview is successful, the CR1/IR1 spousal visa will normally be issued within two weeks. There are many things that can delay or prevent the issuance of the CR1/IR1 visa. Listed in the order of frequency that they seem to occur:
- Failure to convince the Consular Officer that a bona fide relationship exists between the couple
- Large age difference between U.S. citizen and the foreign spouse
- U.S. citizen cannot meet the minimum income requirement
- Missing documents
- Incorrect documents
- Documents completed incorrectly
- Inadequate English skills of foreign spouse
All of the above can normally be avoided by hiring an immigration law firm with the experience that we have in handling these situations. Number 2 can be more of a problem with certain Consulates than with others, but the risk of a denial due to the age difference can certainly be reduced by adequate interview preparation for the spouse. Also, we will cover this potential problem in our initial conversation with you and advise you as to what we believe to be your chances of successfully obtaining a CR1/IR1 visa.
The timing of the CR1/IR1 spousal visa depends on the USCIS Service Center that processes the visa petition and the country in which the foreign spouse legally resides. If you will give us a call we will be glad to compute the current processing time for your CR1/IR1 spousal visa situation.
Once your spouse receives the CR1/IR1 marriage visa, he or she has a maximum of six months to use it to enter the U.S.