If you, a Ghana citizen, are married to a US citizen or resident, your spouse can petition the US government. That is, they can ask the US government to give you license to live with them permanently in the United States. If the US government will agree to this petition, there are certain things that you (the beneficiary) and your spouse (the petitioner) must possess.
For one, your marriage to the individual must be legal in the country where the wedding was held. That is, if you got married in Ghana, the Ghana government must recognize your marriage as true marriage. If Ghana does not see you as truly married, neither will the USCIS (the US body that grants visas).
CR1 and IR1: Understanding the Difference and Which One Applies to You
Let us start with the CR1 Visa.
The CR1 Visa is an acronym for Conditional Resident Visa – it comes with certain conditions that the applicant and petitioner must fulfill. First, the visa is for couples who have been married for less than two years when they entered the US. Also, the visa is only valid for two years, after which the couple MUST apply to have the conditions removed. When the USCIS approves the application, the beneficiary will get a ten-year permanent resident card.
On the other hand, the IR1, also known as Immediate Relative Visa, is a ten-year-valid visa. The visa is awarded to couples who have been married for over two years at the time they get the visa. There are no conditions on the IR1 and the beneficiary does not have to apply again after two years. They only need to use the card for the stipulated duration and then renew it afterwards – or apply for citizenship.
The CR1/IR1 is only awarded to spouses of US citizens because they are regarded as “Immediate Relatives.” Contrarily, spouses of permanent resident card holders have to get another type of temporary visa and then adjust their status later.
The Required Documentation for Obtaining CR1/IR1 Visa in Ghana
The process of applying for the visa requires that you submit certain supporting documents to corroborate the information in your forms. These documents include:
- Your NVC interview letter,
- An international passport that will remain valid for six months after you arrive in the United States,
- A copy of the biographic page where your photo and name are located,
- Two passport-size photographs of you and your children, if you are bringing any with you,
- The confirmation page of Form DS-260 (the main application form for the visa) printed out from caec.state.gov/iv,
- The original and photocopies of civil documents such as your birth certificate, marriage certificate, police certificate, and others,
- A copy of the right Affidavit of Support form (Form I-864) with your sponsor’s IRS transcript and recent US federal income tax return,
- Pictures, letters, itineraries, emails, and anything that can prove your relationship with the US citizen.
The Consular Processing at the US Consulate in Ghana
In the application process, there is a part that is done in the US by your spouse. This includes filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and submitting the supporting documents as instructed. You will wait for a few weeks to months while the USCIS reviews and appends its decision (approval or denial). If it approves and the NVC receives your case, you will get a letter telling you to carry on with consular processing.
The processing for immigrant visas for Ghanaian citizens and residents are currently done at the US Embassy in Accra. Below steps to take before you attend your required immigrant visa interview:
Schedule and Get a Medical Examination
Once the NVC sends your interview appointment date, you are to schedule a medical exam in Ghana. The Ghanaian government mandates every immigrant visa applicant, age regardless, to undergo a medical examination before a visa is issued. However, the consulate will not schedule the examination for you; it is your responsibility. The two approved medical centers for the examination include Akain House Clinic and Holy Trinity Medical Center.
Gather Your Supporting Documents
The US Consulate in Ghana expects you to come with all the required original and photocopied documents to your interview. The Consulate will usually create a checklist and sent to applicants, telling them what to bring.
You should have paid all the fees required by the NVC before attending your interview. If you haven’t, you can pay them on the interview day in cash, US dollars, or Ghanaian cedis.
Do You Need an Immigration Attorney?
Are you looking for an immigration attorney who can guide you through this exasperating visa application process? Herman Legal Group is a US-based law firm with over twenty years of experience helping couples get marriage-based green cards.
We can help you from the beginning of the process until you get your visa. Or if you only need legal counsel, perhaps there is a complication regarding your case, you can book online or call +1-800-808-4013.
The CR1/IR1 visa grants you, the spouse of a US citizen, a permanent resident in the US. The CR1 is for if your marriage is less than two years and the IR1 is for if it is more than.