ACR1 visa or IR1 spousal visa allows a foreign spouse married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to live and work in the United States. CR1 spousal visa is issued only to those married couples, same or different sex, whose marriage lasts less than two years, and that is why it is called the “conditional resident.” On the contrary, the IR1 visa is issued for couples who are married longer than two years. The purpose of the CR1 petition is to grant the foreign spouse a conditional permanent residence in the United States.

The U.S. citizen can initiate a visa by submitting the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The U.S. citizen as a petitioner has to have U.S. citizenship or to be a permanent resident. He also has to be lawfully married to a foreign spouse, and his income has to meet the proposed visa criteria. The alien spouse has to be 18 years old.

The petition should get mailed to the specified address with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. After the approval, USCIS will transfer the petition to the National Visa Center (NCV), where the case number gets assigned. At the same time, it is necessary to fill the online Form DS-261, Choice of Address and agent, and to pay around 1200$ for the petition fees plus additional medical exam fees of 200$ if the examination is needed. Along with the forms I-130 and Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application, it is necessary to submit additional documents. Documents can refer to U.S. citizenship evidence such as a birth certificate or a U.S. passport, and proof of bona fide marriage, like marriage certificate, joint bank account statements, etc. Other documents such as proof of medical exam, passport-style photos, and a Form I-864 as Affidavit of support are needed. Optional document Form G-1145 can also be filed to transfer communication with USCIS about petition acceptance from physical mail to mobile phone or email.

If the petition is complete, NVC will appoint the interview and forward the petition with all the supportive documents from the case to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, where the interview will be held. The Appointment letter will get mailed about one month earlier, leaving the time for the foreign spouse to collect all the necessary documents and get prepared for it. Instructions for obtaining a medical examination will be addressed in the letter too. The petitioner will also get the Appointment letter, but it does not have to attend the interview. During the interview, the spouse will be questioned by the consular officer about the relationship and marriage with the petitioner, with the purpose of determining that the marriage is not fraudulent.

The USCIS can send the Request for evidence, in which case additional documents will have to be submitted. Processing time can vary from case to case, but the estimated time for granting the visa can be from 7 to 10 months. It is possible that even though the marriage is real, the visa petition gets denied, meaning that profound preparation and fulfilled eligibility requirements are a must.

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