Spousal Visa Eligibility

2019 Eligibility requirements for CR1 Spouse Visa

To be granted a CR1 spouse visa to permit your spouse to enter and take up permanent residency in the United States, the sponsor and spouse must meet a set of eligibility requirements. Here are described the top eleven requirements


1. The Couple is Lawfully Married.

That means that wherever they had their ceremony, they are lawfully and officially married, and have the paperwork to prove it.

2. The couple’s relationship is “bona fide”.

The couple has a sincere relationship between them. It does not have to be a “Hallmark Greeting Card” romantic relationship. But it must be sincere that the couple TRULY want to spend their lives together, that they are not shaming, they are not undergoing this process, only for immigration purposes. The couple understands that this process takes time and to that the Spouse Visa Timeline requires patience.

3. The couple’s engagement leading to marriage, and their arrangements after the wedding matches cultural norms, from Spouse’s home country

This is a similar requirement to being “bona fide” in that the couple ACTs “bona fide” as well by following the cultural norms from the Foreign Spouse’s home country. What that means is that if for example: in the country and culture of the Foreign Spouse an engagement celebration was expected, or a ring was expected, or a dowry was expected, or full involvement of either family was or is expected, then the couple should do what is expected.

4. Sponsor is a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.

5. Sponsor’s income is over 125% of his states poverty level.

In 2018 this means $20,575 annual income for the sponsor and Foreign Spouse, plus $5,400 for any additional household members (usually this means dependent children) Cash assets or home equity can substitute for income.

6. Sponsor can not have been convicted of certain crimes.

If previously convicted of domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse. Depending on the circumstances of the past convictions, the sponsor may be ineligible for the visa.

7. Foreign Spouse has a passport.

The Foreign Spouse possesses a passport permitting him or her to travel across international borders. The Foreign Spouse visa will be stamped into the passport. The visa is usually good for 6 months, so the passport must have at least 8 more months of validity.

8. Foreign Spouse Passes Medical Exam.

The Foreign Spouse has the required vaccinations, does not carry any diseases that would cause a public health risk, does not have any dangerous physical or mental disorder. Does not have a medical condition that would require public financial assistance to treat.

9. Foreign Spouse has not (seriously) violated U.S. immigration laws.

Overstaying previous visas to USA, deportation, misrepresentation and fraud to US immigration may prevent approval of the Foreign Spouse visa

10. Foreign Spouse is of good moral character.

This is kind of a “catch all”. It was designed to prevent criminals and sex trade workers from being eligible. But sometimes the consular officer can also apply this rule to other situations. For example if the courtship between Foreign Spouse and American sponsor took place before divorces to prior spouses were final, the consular officer could consider the relationship at that time to have been adulterous, and deny on moral grounds. This is rare, but possible.

11. Couple intends to live in USA

When granted, the spouse visa includes approval of permanent residency for the foreign spouse. Immigration will only issue the spouse visa if convinced that the couple sincerely intends to live in the USA. So in the case of a couple that lives together outside the USA, say as ex pats, who live and work in a foreign country and maybe just want the flexibility to occasional visit the USA, they are NOT eligible for this visa. What they really want for that purpose is a B1/B2 visitor visa.

By Fred Wahl