A Marriage visa (CR1 or IR1) referrers to immigration visas. The holder of CR1 or IR1, being the spouse of an American, can come to the USA to reside there legally. The types of these visas differ.
CR1 or IR1 visas — what is the difference?
When person, being an American citizen, wishes to live with his alien spouse in the USA, he/she can help her/him in getting a Marriage visa. United States offer in these cases applying for CR1/IR1 of K3 visas. The majority of applicants choose exactly Cr1 or IR1 (Marriage) visas.
These visas have the slightest difference. CR1 is issued when the couple has been living in official marriage for less than two years. IR1 visa is given for persons who stay in marriage for more than two years.
CR1 (where CR stands for Conditional Resident) gives the American’s spouse the right to reside in the USA permanently. Those, who have CR1, can start working in the USA the same day they get Green Card. CR1 gives only the conditional status of a resident for a person. CR1 holder should prove that he/ she has not got it just to immigrate to America quickly. The pair (an American and his/hers official foreign spouse) must verify that their marriage is not a fake, but a real fact and they live like spouses. The verification of their marriage and removal of the conditional status should be done at least 90 days before the 2-year CR1 marriage visa is expired.
The IR1 marriage visa (here IR stands for Immediate relative) is given to alien spouses that have been stayed in official marriage with an American for more than two years. The difference between CR1 and IR1 marriage visas is slight but sufficient. In case with IR1 the visa holder becomes an unconditional resident of the USA. This individual can start working in US soon after the arrival to the country.
American petitioner/sponsor requirements
Only those persons who are legal spouses of Americans citizens can get Marriage visa. The fact of two people living together is not the legal proof of their marriage. It is not a reason to issue CR1 or IR1 for a foreign spouse. Yes, the USA Citizenship recognizes common-law marriages, and so does USCIS, but the situation always depends on the laws taken in the country where the couple had their marriage. The recent rules now recognize same-sex marriages as well.
It does not matter how old is the American citizen that files the petition for his foreign relative. Meanwhile, it matters when filing AOS or Affidavit of Support. AOS is always needed when a foreign spouse cannot support herself or himself financially for living. In this case her American spouse claims that he will support the foreign spouse since the day of her/his immigration to the USA. Filing I-130 form, the American must physically live in the USA and prove that he has his own domicile (apartment, house, etc).
The process of getting Marriage visa
The very first stage of this process is always filing I-130 which is officially called a Petition for Alien Relative. An American, who wants his/hers spouse come to America and stay there permanently, files I-130 with USCIS. Also you can file form I-130 with the help of a special service of immigration forms, which will check the correct filling and send forms to USCIS.
Look at the list of the stuff required when you file I-130 form.
All fees payments;
Petition for your foreign relative;
Copies of each page of the passport of a foreign spouse and a the birth certificate of an American citizen copy;
Marriage certificate copy;
When any of the spouses or both of them were married, papers proving that the marriage was terminated are needed. For deceased spouses death certificates are provided;
Proof of the lawful marriage.
When you submit I-130 form, you should provide something more than simply your certificate of a marriage. The following stuff can be the proof of you real, legal marriage relationship: joint accounts in bank, photos from wedding, phone calls that show that you communicate always, documents that show you travel together (plane tickets, money transfer receipts), etc.
Soon after USCIS approves your petition, it will send it to the NVC that always gathers fees and forms for Consulates and Embassies of the USA. When your petition is paid, the NVC will start the procedure of working at it. You will also get the package, containing detailed information about different papers you have to prepare. Here is the list of the documents that can be needed further:
A passport (it must be valid);
2 photos 2×2 inches size;
Immigrant visa and the foreigner registration application;
Medical exam forms (must be completed);
The certificate of birth;
Records from prison and court (if they exist);
Records from Military (when exist);
Police certificates (it exist).
As soon as the NVC decides that you have submitted all the necessary papers and documents, they will inform you about the interview for an alien spouse. The NVC will send the package with all the documents of your case to the Consulate or Embassy of the USA that is located on the closest to your foreign spouse territory. The applicant for Marriage visa will also get all the information telling him/her about the medical exam, which must be made only by a medical specialist approved. The list of the approved physicians will be provided to an applicant as well.
Besides passing medical exam an applicant must get all the necessary vaccinations. He/she should have his/hers vaccination records: Meningococcal, Rotavirus, Polio, Pneumococcal, Pertussis, Influenza, Measles, Mumps, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rubella, Tetanus and Varicella. It is better for the applicant to get all these required vaccinations before the medical exam and provide copies of their records.
When coming to the interview on getting CR1/IR1 visa, the applicant must have with him/her the valid passport and all the other papers and documents that were not yet asked by the NVC and submitted. Marriage visa will be issued (or denied) during the interview. The applicant must prepare beforehand all the required documents and carefully follow all the given for him instructions in order not to cause the delay in getting Marriage visa.
The applicant will get his passport with visa in it back as soon as CR1 or IR1 marriage visas is approved. He will be also given a large package (sealed) with all the papers and documents provided during the whole process. The visa is issued for 6 months; therefore an applicant must enter the USA within this period. If opposite happens and the person who got Marriage visa did not enter the USA, he/she must start the process from the very beginning. The sealed package is given to an officer at Port of Entry (in the airport of the USA). Visa gives its holder only the right of entering the USA (airport), however, the Department of Homeland Security decides if the Marriage visa holder can be granted the further entry to United States.
How long does the whole process of Marriage visa last?
The average length of the whole process of getting a Marriage visa is approximately 8-10 months. However, this timeline can vary — it always depends on the country where the foreign spouse lives in, and various circumstances that make the process longer — errors made when filling the forms in, the incorrect information given, etc.
Can a same-sex married pair apply for the Marriage visa?
Yes, they can do it. Since recently Supreme Court announced same-sex marriages legal, these people can apply for CR1/IR1 Marriage visas.