Beginning life as a married couple is an exciting pursuit, full of many decisions and important life changes. One of the most crucial decisions that a newly married couple will make is where they will settle down and begin their lives together. For some couples, this choice is focused on a city; for others, this decision involves immigrating to a new country. Immigrating to the United States to join a spouse is a significant and time-consuming process and many couples seek legal assistance to successfully secure their visa.
As a leading Washington-based immigration law firm, our team of Seattle spousal visa attorneys has successfully assisted numerous couples as they immigrate to the United States on a permanent basis. We understand that helping your spouse immigrate to the United States is daunting and we work diligently to lessen the stress of the process. To learn more about how we can help, consider contacting ZafiroLaw today at (206) 547-9906.
How Can I Help My Spouse Immigrate to the United States?
If you are a United States citizen with a foreign-born spouse, there are options to help your spouse immigrate to the United States. The immediate relative visa pathway is an ideal option for couples to reunite and live together in the United States. While there are several categories of immediate relative visas, there are two options available to couples. These options include the IR-1 visa and the CR-1 visa. Each option represents a different pathway to immigration in the United States depending on the timeline of your marriage.
The IR-1 and CR-1 visas both require that a foreign-born spouse receives sponsorship from a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. For individuals who wish to help their spouse immigrate to the United States on a long-term basis, these visa options are the most common avenues. Our Seattle spousal visa attorneys are looking forward to guiding you through this process.
What Is the IR-1 Visa?
The IR-1 visa, known as the immediate relative spouse visa, offers residency in the United States on a more permanent basis. This visa option is available for couples who have been married and living in the United States for two years. The immediate relative spouse visa provides a more permanent option for the foreign-born spouses of American citizens to live and work in the United States. The IR-1 visa grants individuals a Green Card, meaning there is no need to renew the visa for ten years.
What Are the Requirements for the IR-1 Visa?
Since the IR-1 visa provides permanent residency to the visa holder, there are certain eligibility requirements that must be met in order to apply for this option. To qualify for this visa, the following must be true:
- You and your spouse are legally wedded. According to United States law, simply living together and cohabitating is not enough to be considered legally married. The marriage must be legally recognized. In some cases, a common law marriage may qualify for the IR-1 visa but, regardless, a valid marriage certificate will be required. It is important to note that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will look for documented evidence to prove that your marriage is authentic.
- The petitioning spouse is a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident and lives in the United States, or has documented plans to return to the country with their spouse.
- You and your spouse have been married for over two years.
- The United States citizen spouse has the financial means to support the foreign-born spouse. Under United States law, every individual who immigrates to the country based on family relationships must have a financial sponsor. If the income requirements are not met, it may be possible to use a joint sponsor. A Seattle spousal visa attorney can help you navigate the financial and other requirements for the IR-1 visa.
What Is the Application Process for the IR-1 Visa?
The application process for the IR-1 visa begins when the United States citizen spouse submits Form I-130, which is officially called the “Petition for Alien Relative”. Once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives Form I-130 and the appropriate fees, they will issue a confirmation and communicate with you about the next steps.
Once the USCIS approves the petition, the case is sent to the National Visa Center. In some situations, the USCIS will require additional evidence or documentation. If this is the case and your spouse lives abroad, they will receive communication from the National Visa Center with further instructions.
As the National Visa Center processes the application and all relevant materials are submitted, the foreign-born spouse will be required to submit the DS-260 form to continue the application process. This form is the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. It is important to keep records of this form to carry with you to the interview.
The application process for the IR-1 visa can be long and complex, and it is important to include all necessary materials in your application to avoid delays. Consequently, many people seek guidance from an experienced Seattle spousal visa attorney to ensure that their application is completed fully and according to United States immigration law.
What Is the Processing Time for the IR-1 Visa?
The processing time for the IR-1 visa is typically between six and twelve months. It is important to understand that this is an approximate timeline, however, and the application process can be longer or shorter depending on a range of factors. If there are a large number of applicants ahead of you, then the processing time may be longer. The processing time also depends on the service center in which you apply, namely the Nebraska Service Center or the Texas Service Center. Moreover, if your application is initially denied, this can result in severe delays in the processing time. If you have further questions about the IR-1 Visa, consider contacting the experienced Seattle spousal visa attorneys at ZafiroLaw.
What Is the CR-1 Visa?
The CR-1 visa is known as the conditional resident spouse visa and is available for couples who have been married for less than two years. This visa option allows the foreign-born spouse to immigrate to the United States with a Green Card, as long as the couple stays married for two years. After the two-year timeframe, it is possible to remove the conditional status of the foreign-born spouse’s permanent residency through the IR-1 visa option.
What Are the Requirements for the CR-1 Visa?
The requirements for the CR-1 visa are similar to that of the IR-1 visa. For this visa option, the foreign-born spouse will require a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident to sponsor the application and financial support must be proven. Similarly, the authenticity of the marriage must be proven and the United States citizen spouse must have a residence in the United States or proven plans to return to the country and live.
What Is the Application Process for the CR-1 Visa?
The application process for the CR-1 visa is often quite long and arduous, so it is essential to fully understand the necessary steps before applying. The application process can be broken down as follows:
- Step 1: Ensure that the foreign-born spouse is eligible to receive a Green Card through family relationships. The United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident must have a domicile in the country and the marriage must be valid.
- Step 2: The United States citizen sponsor submits the Form I-130, the Petition for Alien Relative
- Step 3: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services processes the application and, if approved, the case moves to the National Visa Center.
- Step 4: The National Visa Center will begin processing the application and issue communication if any additional paperwork is required or appointments need to be scheduled.
- Step 5: The relevant United States Embassy or Consulate will send a letter with information about where and when the interview will take place.
- Step 6: The foreign-born spouse will complete a medical examination with an Embassy-approved doctor.
- Step 7: Attend the interview. Be sure to bring all relevant documents, evidence, and paperwork. During the interview, questions will be asked regarding your marriage and your application. These questions must be answered under oath.
- Step 8: Further inquiries or documents may be required. If not, and the application is approved, a visa will be issued to the foreign-born spouse. This visa will be valid for a limited timeframe, during which the foreign-born spouse should travel to the United States and wait for their Green Card to be sent to their residence.
The CR-1 visa requires a range of materials and evidence that are key to the approval of your application. Unfortunately, even the smallest missteps in the application process can lead to delays or the denial of your visa. A Seattle spousal visa attorney has the experience necessary to navigate this process carefully, avoiding the common issues that often arise. In turn, you are more likely to successfully work through the application process and reunite with your loved ones sooner.
What Is the Processing Time for the CR-1 Visa?
On average the processing time for this visa is between seven months and one year, but the timeline for the application process varies from applicant to applicant. Much like the IR-1 visa, the processing time for the CR-1 visa is largely dependent on the unique circumstances of your case and the workload of the United States Embassy to which you applied.
Additionally, the processing time may vary depending on the originating country of the foreign-born spouse and the quality of your petition. The stronger your application is, the less likely you are to experience delays and prolong the processing time for the CR-1 visa. For this reason, it may be beneficial to seek assistance from a team of knowledgeable Seattle spousal visa attorneys who can ensure that your application is properly organized and submitted according to United States law.
Contact ZafiroLaw Seattle Spousal Visa Attorneys Today
Applying for, and successfully obtaining, a spousal visa is often a stressful and difficult process. Between the range of paperwork that is required from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the variation in application procedures, it is easy to fall into the common pitfalls that many applicants encounter. Unfortunately, these pitfalls can cost couples time and money, two valuable resources that many married couples do not want to waste when beginning their lives together.
At ZafiroLaw, we have centered our practice around streamlining the process of immigrating to the United States, making it easier and faster for couples to reunite in the country. If you are trying to help your spouse immigrate to the United States, we are available to help. To begin the process of applying for an IR-1 visa or CR-1 visa for your spouse, consider contacting the experienced Seattle spousal visa attorneys at our office at (206) 547-9906 today.