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CR1 Visa

The CR1 visa is a conditional visa available for a foreign-born spouse married to a U.S. citizen if they have been married for fewer than two years prior to obtaining the visa and living in the United States. Because the marriage is not at least two years long at the time of application, the green card is conditional in order to ensure the validity and vitality of the marriage. When a CR1 visa is issued, the visa holder must take further steps in order to remove the conditions on the visa.

What are the requirements for the CR1 visa? 

In order to qualify for the CR1 visa, the visa applicant must be legally married to a United States citizen. The CR1 visa further requires that the visa applicant remove conditions placed upon the visa after the visa applicant and U.S. citizen have been together in the United States and married for at least two years. 

What Does it Mean to Have Conditions on a Green Card? 

Individuals who obtained a Green Card based on their marriage to a U.S. citizen or U.S. Green Card holder will have conditions put on their lawful permanent resident status that must be removed after two years. Permanent residency status is conditional if the marriage is less than two years old at the time permanent residency is obtained.

Conditional status is granted to younger marriages in order to prevent fraud from individuals who enter into a marriage in order to circumvent the immigration process. The conditions will be removed after two years and once the CR1 visa holder proves the authenticity of the marriage. Individuals who are the child of someone who obtained a Green Card based on marriage must also remove conditions from their lawful permanent residency.

How to Apply for the CR1 Green Card? 

The process for a spouse to receive a CR1 Green Card is generally less lengthy than for other Green Card applicants. Qualified individuals may apply for a Green Card through either consular processing or adjustment of status.

Consular Processing

Consular processing is available for applicants who are currently living outside of the United States. Under consular processing, applicants must follow the steps outlined below:

File an Immigrant Visa Petition 

In order to begin the process for consular processing, the applicant’s U.S. citizen or Green Card holder spouse will need to submit the applicant’s immigration petition Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

When Form I-130 is submitted, documentation must be included to prove that the marriage is valid, including a valid marriage certificate, divorce documents from any previous marriages, and documentation proving the marriage is legitimate. 

File Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application 

After filing an immigrant visa petition, the visa applicant must file Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application by providing information regarding the applicant’s background, biographical information, and reason for immigrating to the United States.

Attend Interview at Consulate or Embassy

After an applicant’s immigrant visa petition and electronic application are submitted, he or she will need to attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest to them where a U.S. official will ask questions relevant to the individual’s desire to live in the United States permanently. The consulate officer conducting the interview will likely inquire into the applicant’s relationship with the U.S. citizen and assess the legitimacy of the relationship

After Immigrant Visa is Granted

Once an applicant’s visa petition is approved and an immigrant visa is granted, he or she will receive a sealed Visa Packet that must be brought to a United States port of entry when the individual seeks entry into the United States, and must not be opened prior to arrival at the port of entry. The Visa Packet may be given to the applicant at the interview with a U.S. consulate officer. So long as the individual has paid all USCIS fees, the individual’s Green Card should arrive by mail to the individual’s United States address within 45 days of arrival in the United States. 

Adjusting Status

Individuals already living inside the United States can seek to change their status as a spouse of a United States citizen or Green Card holder. Spouses may adjustment their status by following the steps below:

File an Immigrant Visa Petition and Change of Status Petition 

Much like consular processing, an applicant seeking to change his or her status must have someone (such as a spouse or parent) submit immigration petition Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to the USCIS in order to stay permanently in the United States. Unlike consular processing, Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status must also be filed after the immigrant visa petition is approved or at the same time as the immigrant visa petition. Only immediate relatives to U.S. citizens, including spouses, are permitted to submit Form I-485 at the same time as the immigration petition.  

Submit Supporting and Identifying Documentation 

When submitting Form I-130 and Form I-485 to adjust status, a spouse must submit other supporting identifying documentation, including: 

  • Two passport-style photographs that conform to Department of State photo requirements; 
  • Copy of the Form I-797, Approval or Receipt Notice (for the Form I-130 petition filed on the applicant’s behalf) 
    • Note: Form I-797 does not need to be filed if Form I-130 and Form I-485 is filed together
  • Copy of applicant’s birth certificate; 
  • Copy of valid marriage certificate; 
  • Copy of valid divorce from any prior marriages; 
  • Documentation evidencing the marriage’s legitimacy; 
  • Copy of applicant’s passport page with non-immigrant visa; 
  • Copy of applicant’s passport page with admission or parole stamp issued by a U.S. immigration officer; 
  • Copy of government-issued ID with applicant’s photograph; 
  • Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record or copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admission or parole stamp on the travel document 

Attend an Application Support Center Appointment 

After Form I-485 is filed, an applicant will have to attend an appointment to provide fingerprints, photograph, a signature, and an acknowledgement that the applicant has provided true and accurate information. The applicant will receive a notice in the mail informing him or her of the appointment time, date, and location. 

Attend an Interview 

Similar to consular processing, some applicants may have to attend an interview prior to receiving approval of their change of status application. However, an interview is not required for all applicants. Thus, an individual will receive a notice of the interview time, date, and location if one is necessary. 

After Change of Status is Granted

After an applicant’s change of status is approved, he or she will first receive a notice of approval. The applicant’s Green Card document will be sent soon thereafter. 

How to Remove Conditions from a CR1 Green Card? 

The requirements to remove conditions are fairly straightforward. The foreign-born spouse and U.S. citizen must apply together within 90 days before the two year anniversary of the foreign-born spouse’s entry into the United States. The two year anniversary marks the conditional Green Card’s expiration date, as shown on the Green Card identification document’s front side. Applications to remove conditions are submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Step One: File Form I-751 with Supporting Evidence

Within 90 days of the Green Card’s two-year expiration date, the married Green Card holder must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence jointly with his or her spouse and submit it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), pay the filing fee, and provide all required evidence and supporting documentation. Evidence is necessary to prove that the marriage is legitimate, and includes photos together, joint financial documentation, and other evidence typically accumulated after two years of marriage. 

Children who need conditions removed based on the marriage of their parents can be included on their parents Form I-751 if the children received their conditional status on the same day as their parent. 

Step Two: Attend Biometrics Services Appointment

After filing Form I-751, the Green Card holder may also be required to attend a Biometrics Services Appointment with the USCIS. At the Biometrics Services Appointment, the Green Card holder may be required to provide his or her fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature in order to verify the Green Card holder’s identity, obtain additional information, and conduct a background and security check. 

Step Three: Attend Interview 

Some Green Card holders may be required to attend an interview before conditions will be removed. However, an interview is not required for all applicants. Thus, an individual will receive a notice of the interview time, date, and location if one is necessary. 

Waivers for Joint Petition 

Under certain circumstances, a spouse or stepparent may not be available to jointly petition with the Green Card holder to remove conditions. In such situations, the Green Card holder can request that the joint filing requirement be waived.

Some circumstances where a waiver may be necessary include: 

  • The sponsoring spouse or stepparent died subsequent to a good faith marriage; 
  • The sponsoring spouse or stepparent and the Green Card holder got divorced from a good faith marriage, and the Green Card holder is not at fault in failing to file a timely petition; 
  • The good faith marriage turned into an abusive situation where the Green Card holder or his or her child were subjected to abuse by the sponsoring spouse or stepparent.
  • The Green Card holder’ deportation or removal would result in extreme hardship.

What if a Green Card Holder Fails to Remove Conditions?

The failure to remove the conditions of permanent residency will cause the Green Card holder’s status to lapse as soon as the conditional Green Card expires. The Green Card holder would likely have to go through deportation proceedings. Prolonged presence in the United States with a lapsed status and expired Green Card could result in a bar on entry to the United States in the future. 

How Long Does a Green Card Last After Conditions are Removed? 

Once conditions are removed, the Green Card holder enters lawful permanent residence status, which does not lapse. However, after conditions are removed, lawful permanent residents must renew their Green Card identification document every 10 years according to the expiration date listed on the Green Card. 

How Much Does it Cost to Remove Conditions? 

The cost to file Form I-751 is $595. 

The cost of the Biometric Services Appointment is $85. 

The cost to file Form I-829 is $3,750.

Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.