Helping Foreign Spouses Understand Their Options
The United States offers many immigration options for foreign nationals who want to come to live and work in the country. Which visa option is applicable to your situation depends on your relationship to your sponsor and what your goals for the future are. If you are married to a U.S. citizen and want to join them to make a permanent home in the United States, the IR1 visa is an option.
An IR1 visa may be one of the most common options for foreign spouses who want to immigrate to the United States, but that doesn’t mean it’s a simple process. Having the guidance of an immigration attorney who understands how the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office works and has successfully helped others get an IR1 visa approved can make it easier. Find out how our team can take some of the stress out of this process by calling Badmus & Associates.
What Is an IR1 Visa?
The IR1 visa is an Immediate Relative visa. As the name suggests, these visas are reserved for the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, and the 1 designates this as a spousal visa. When an IR1 visa is approved, it gives you lawful permanent residence status and only needs to be renewed every 10 years. However, there is the option to apply for naturalized citizenship after 3 years if you are able to meet the other requirements.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for an IR1 Visa?
There are specific criteria that must be met to be eligible for an IR1 visa. The two most important are that the sponsoring spouse must be a U.S. citizen and that the couple must be able to prove that they are in a legitimate marriage. It’s important to note that this doesn’t just mean legally married with a marriage certificate.
While the certificate of marriage is an important part of the application, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wants to ensure that the couple didn’t just get married for immigration purposes. You will need to provide other proof of your relationship, such as having joint accounts at a financial institution, having children together, or having photo evidence of relationship milestones and holidays.
The sponsor must also be willing and able to support their spouse financially. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires that the sponsor be able to show proof of an income that is at 125% of the federal poverty level in the United States. This amount changes by the year as it is adjusted for cost of living increases.
Lastly, the sponsor must have a permanent home in the United States and plan to live in that home with their spouse if the immigration application is approved. If you’re not sure if you meet all of these requirements, it’s a good idea to talk with an immigration attorney before you proceed to ensure that you don’t waste time and money filing for a visa that is likely to be rejected.
What Is the Difference Between the IR1 Visa and the CR1 Visa?
Both the IR1 and CR1 visas are marriage-based visas, and they have the same basic requirements. However, the CR1 visa is issued if the couple has been married less than 2 years and imposes a 2-year conditional period before the foreign spouse is eligible for permanent resident status. The IR1 visa doesn’t have this restriction. As soon as the IR1 visa is granted and the foreign spouse has arrived in the United States, they are able to apply for permanent residency status.
How Much Does an IR1 Visa Cost?
When you submit your application for the IR1 visa, you will need to include the filing fee. As of 2023, the fee for this visa is $535. This is a substantial amount of money, and it’s important to know that you do not get this money returned if your application is denied. This is used as a processing fee, so it is nonrefundable. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, it’s possible in some cases to fill out a waiver form that is based on your income. If you do not include the filing fee with your application and have not had a waiver approved, the visa will be automatically denied. Keep in mind that this is only the filing fee and doesn’t include any additional fees, such as the cost of your biometrics appointment.
How Long Does It Take for an IR1 Visa to Be Processed?
While even a few weeks can seem like a lifetime when you’re separated from your spouse, it’s important to have realistic expectations for how long these visas take to process. In general, you can expect the entire process to take 6 to 12 months, but this can be highly variable. If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office has to request more information from you, this can dramatically increase your processing time. How big the backlog is on visas at the time you apply and how long the wait time is to schedule an interview at your local field office or consulate can also impact the total time. Working with an attorney and ensuring that you provide everything the immigration office is asking for as quickly as possible can help expedite the process.
At Badmus & Associates, we make it our mission to provide knowledgeable and compassionate legal counsel to all of our clients. We know that you need accurate information to be able to make decisions about your future, and we want our clients to feel heard and supported through every step of the process. Call our Dallas office at 214-393-4917 to get started.