August 2, 2021. 
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How to Obtain a U.S. Spouse Visa (IR1/CR1) + Useful Tips

If you’re a U.S. citizen and you want to bring your spouse to the United States, they need to apply for a Spouse visa. This is the first step in the family-based Green Card process.

What’s the difference between the IR1 and CR1 visa?

The U.S. Spouse visa is an immigrant visa for foreign spouses of U.S. citizens who want to enter the United States to live (and work) here. There are two types of spouse visas: IR1 and CR1.

The IR1 visa (Immediate Relative visa) is issued to a foreign spouse who has been married to a U.S. citizen for a period longer than two years. The foreign spouse who receives an IR1 visa will be given a lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. A lawful permanent resident, also known as a Green Card holder, is granted the right to live in the United States indefinitely. Furthermore, they can work immediately once they arrive in the States. LPRs can lose their status if they commit a crime or fail to report the change of address.

The CR1 visa (Conditional Resident visa) is issued to a foreign spouse who has been married to a U.S. citizen for less than two years before they received their Green Card. Conditional residents are obliged to file to remove the condition within two years of receiving the Green Card. Otherwise, the card will be terminated and they will face deportation.

Spouse visa processing usually takes 3 to 5 months. Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens are eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses.

U.S. petitioner

As a U.S. sponsor (petitioner), you must be a U.S. citizen, legally married to your spouse, and you have to meet the income requirements. To start the process of getting a visa for your spouse, you’ll have to file an immigration form in order to request benefits on behalf of your spouse (beneficiary). You must be at least 18 years old in order to be able to sign the Affidavit of Support. On the other hand, filing the Petition for an Alien Relative (Form I-130) does not have the minimum age requirement. If you filed the petition for your spouse when you had the LRP status and you’re now a U.S. citizen, you’ll have to upgrade the petition from family second preference (F2) to immediate relative (IR).

In case you’re a U.S. citizen living abroad, you can file an immigrant visa petition for your spouse outside of the United States. This involves actions that need to be taken both by the petitioner and applicant. You’ll have to submit the petition, pay the fees, gather the necessary documents, prepare for, and attend a face-to-face Embassy interview. The process itself can be complex and time-consuming. Moreover, if you omit any of the steps, it will most likely result in visa denial. We’re here to help you avoid such a scenario. Simply schedule a consultation with one of our immigration agents, and get the answer to any questions you may have. In case you decide to start or continue with the immigration process, we’re here to provide online support.

Application process


The first step in the process is to file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, with the USCIS. In this case, you’ll file the petition for your spouse to immigrate to the U.S., and in that way start the process of getting a Green Card.

Form I-130 proves that there is a valid family relationship between a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident and their spouse who is seeking a Green Card.

The amount of time needed for the I-130 petition to be processed varies on a case-to-case basis. The average time for approval ranges from 7 to 32 months. After your I-130 petition is approved, it will be transferred to NVC (National Visa Center). Afterwards, you’ll be asked to pay the processing fees, fill out and submit supporting documents, and attend the Embassy interview. If you’re having trouble with filling out any of the forms, you can always reach out to VisaExpress; our customer service is at your disposal 24/7.

Useful tips

  • Make sure that you have enough supporting evidence to prove your relationship with your spouse. This includes photographs from your wedding, photos with friends and family, and holiday photos. You can also include joint bank accounts, mortgage, and even chat and call logs exchanged between you and your spouse. You should keep this in mind and start preparing months in advance to gather enough evidence.
  • Know your spouse—their background, family, interests, and hobbies. The stronger your relationship is, the more chances you have for visa approval.
  • Keep all of your documents safe and organized in a binder and be sure to bring them to your interview.

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We hope we answered at least a few questions you're having. If there's anything you wish to learn about the immigration process or you want professional advice tailored to your personal situation, simply schedule a consultation with one of our United States immigration agents. We look forward to hearing from you!


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