How to Apply for CR1 or IR1 Spouse visa

How to Bring Spouse to USA

How to Apply for Visa to bring foreign Spouse to USA

Your partner needs permission from the US government to allow her or him to enter the USA. If you are just married, this is called a CR1 Spouse Visa, if you have been married for two years or more it is called an IR1 Spouse Visa.

If your Spouse is from the Philippines I have published a video specific to the process to bring a Filipino Spouse to the USA

First we submit a thick package of application forms and supporting documents and evidence. This is the “front loaded petition” that VisaCoach is famous for.

My philosophy, the VisaCoach philosophy, which we rigorously follow on every case, team VisaCoach works on, is that success, final outcome, final approval, depends 99% on the quality of your application that you and we together prepare and submit to US immigration.

We take every opportunity, leave no stone unturned, in making your application as complete and persuasive as possible.

The quality of the work we accomplish at the start, at the “front” of this process, determines the ultimate outcome.

When quality goes in, we expect a positive result to come out.

The petition package is mailed to USCIS.

Spouse Visa applications go to Chicago or Phoenix

After initial sorting then the applications are assigned and forwarded to one
of six USCIS service centers that are scattered throughout the USA.

At the destination USCIS service center your case is reviewed and processed.

USCIS takes many months, often over a year to complete their review. For current timing best is that you contact my offices as USCIS processing times are a moving target and recently have been changing on a monthly basis. Sorry, but recently they have been going slower.

Applying for your partner’s visa through US immigration is similar to traveling on a one lane highway. The cars that get on the road ahead of you must exit and get to their destination before you arrive at yours. And the cars behind you, must wait for you to get to yours before them. The only option you have is to enter and get in line as soon as you can. At VisaCoach we can’t help you pass the other vehicles, but what we do do is work to make sure that YOUR vehicle, your application is done properly, that it reliably makes the journey without breakdown and gets you to your destination as quickly as the immigration traffic will allow.

The sooner you get started, and the sooner you submit, PROVIDING your application is properly done, then the earlier you get your visa.

The review at USCIS includes an FBI background check. This is usually only on the US Citizen’s background, however it is also conducted on your partner if she or he had ever lived in the USA.

When USCIS is satisfied with your application, they “approve” it. But they are really just saying that the USCIS review is over. Now another branch of the US government gets involved and must also finally “approve” your case. USCIS hands your case over to the US Department of State, for their review and processing, to their service center in New Hampshire, called the National Visa Center, or NVC for short

NVC confirms which consulate is the one to process your case, and assigns a case number that starts with three letters that identify the consulate, such as CDJ for Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, MNL for Manila, Philippines, LGS for Lagos, Nigeria and so on.

While your case is at NVC, two fees are paid, a visa application fee and the
affidavit of support fee.

Once fees are paid, then we gather and submit to NVC up to date information on your case, and prepare your Affidavit of Support.

Based on knowledge of your situation, we also identify what civil and evidence documents are required by NVC and help you to submit them.

Required documents include:

Police Clearances and Civil Documents: such a Birth, Death, Marriage and Divorce Certificates Financial Evidence: such as Tax Returns, Pay Stubs, Employment Verification

Once we have submitted to NVC all of your required materials they review them. This review usually takes one or more months. Eventually NVC says your case is “Documentarily Qualified”. or DQ. Just like the ice cream stand.

Normally, right after your case is documentarily qualified, NVC reaches out
to the US Embassy assigned to interview your spouse, checks the consulate’s appointment calendar and schedules your spouse’s Interview.

They email you to confirm the date and time your spouse should attend her or his interview.  Then they pack your application into a DHL mailbag and ship it off to the consulate.

Your case has now arrived overseas at the consulate handling your case. And now there are many critical steps for both you and your partner to accomplish before the interview.

Please recall, that unlike other services, I the VisaCoach and my team are still with you on this journey. We are still with you to answer your last minute questions and give you final instructions and personalized checklists in the final run up to the final interview.

Your spouse makes the rounds as needed collecting any additional documents that were not required earlier but now must be taken to the consulate and presented at the interview. Usually these are local government certificates confirming what her or his marital status is, birth certificates of children (even those not coming to the USA) and updates as needed on police clearances or financial eligibility.

Prior to the consulate interview, your partner undergoes a thorough medical exam at a clinic appointed by the consulate.

The exam must only be conducted by the clinic that has been approved by
the consulate, and no other. Your partner can’t use their own doctor.
At the end of the medical exam, the results will be sent directly to the consulate or given to your partner in a sealed envelope.

On the big day your partner attends the interview at the US consulate.

Shortly, after arrival at the consulate she or he is greeted by a local clerk,
and asked to present all of the documents that the consulate requires..

The clerk goes over each item, ticking off on his/her checklist that confirming If the documents are satisfactory

It is critical that your partner be well prepared and has brought EVERYTHING that is required.

Failure to bring even one item might cause the interview to be canceled,
or if allowed to proceed, might add months of additional delay till the visa is issued.

Because this is so critical, and with proper planning it is so easy to avoid problems, we at VisaCoach prepare for you a personalized detailed checklist on what must be brought to the consulate (without fail). We prepare this checklist using our knowledge of your background and situation combined with our previous experience working with the consulate, knowing what they want as well as what they don’t want.

Finally comes the actual interview. This is when your partner meets with an
American consular officer, it is no longer the local hires. This officer will be
making the final decision on your case.

This is the BIG event.

During the interview, the consular officer must be CONVINCED your relationship is bona fide and not a sham contrived for immigration purposes.

Sorry, to say this, but US immigration has had a long and troubled history with visas for fiancee’s and spouses. Their experience has not been a good one.

For regular immigration, there are simple tests of eligibility.

For example if a naturalized US citizen applied for his/her brother to immigrate to the USA, eligibility would be simply demonstrated by a review of both birth certificates. The parents names on the birth certificates would match, and the brother would promptly hear “welcome to the USA”

But for “romance” type visas, for the spouse visa you have applied for, there is NO simple, clear test.

Even a marriage certificate proving you are lawfully married, is not enough.

Instead, the officer must rely on you and your partner’s words, your statements that your relationship is real, not a sham for immigration purposes..

Don’t get me wrong. I know that YOU are totally sincere, totally in love, totally genuine.

But the officer does not know you like I do. There is nothing personal about the officers suspicions, because before you, the “well has been poisoned”, by the con-men, scammers, gigolos and gold diggers, who long ago figured out that if they convincingly lied about their plans, lied about wanting to be in a stable marriage with an American partner, they could cheat their way to win the golden ticket, to a richer life in the USA

These crooks make it difficult for honest people like you.

Because no simple reliable test exists, because so many consular officers have been tricked and made fools of before, because of their frustration and embarrassment, the consular officers have decided to take the gloomy and confrontational attitude that all romance visa cases are probably shams. not bona fide.

Sadly they treat you and your partner as “guilty until proven innocent”

The original application that we prepared and submitted to USCIS, long long ago, at the start of this journey, now lands on the Consular officers desk
for his or her preparation for the interview.

The officer reviews the application while your partner, alone and nervous, is waiting in the lobby of the consulate. The officer searches for clues of trickery, for “red flags” that might increase his general suspicions. The officer is looking for reasons to deny.

And this is why the Visacoach method of “front loading” a petition is so valuable. We craft each application, understanding the consular officers’ stand point.

We understand as a professional, if he or she is convinced of
your sincerity he or she is going to approve and issue the visa.

We also know that if it is not crystal clear to the officer that the couple is genuine, if for any reason he or she is not absolutely convinced, the officer
would prefer to deny, instead of taking any chances.

After all, if he or she approves a scamming couple the officer’s career
and reputation is hurt, but if the officer makes a mistake and denies an honest couple, he or she is only being diligent, and the denied couple can always reapply,  so “no harm done”.

So what we do is help the officer make the right decision.

We help him/her do their job by going the extra mile preparing your application to make sure it does the sincere, honest and persuasive talking for you, to convince a reasonable but skeptical officer to trust you and your situation.

It would be nice if you could attend the interview and personally be available to smooth out any misunderstandings before they cause problems. But you won’t be there.  Only your partner attends the interview. Even if you are present outside the consulate, you will not be allowed in, you remain outside. Your partner undergoes the interview alone.

While you can’t be there in-person, our philosophy at VisaCoach is to help you to be there, at least “in Spirit”.

With each VisaCoach “front loaded” application, we include a personal statement from you that describes “how you met, why you were attracted to each other, the development of your relationship, key moments in your courtship, the circumstances of your proposal, what happened at the wedding  and your plans for a future life and family together in the USA.

Bona fide couples have history. They have plans. Their history and plans have many, many details. By sharing these details, we help the officer to get to know you.  And once the officer gets to know you, he or she is surely going to trust you and your situation.

For most of my clients, creative writing is difficult. I know it is difficult for me.

But I have designed our system at VisaCoach to help make it easy for you to tell your important honest detailed story.

We help you tell your story by asking you short pertinent questions about your courtship and plans for the future. We take your answers given in your voice and prepare your personal statement for the officer to get to know you.

This personal, honest statement goes a long, LONG way to bring the
consular officer to an early understanding that you and your partner are two genuine and sympathetic human beings, who have a sincere love story, and could be his or her neighbors back in the USA.

But telling your story is not enough. Words alone are not enough. A successful petition must also verify your honest story with actual proof. Once we know your situation, Visacoach provides a thorough, detailed, personalized checklist of the various types of evidence that support your application. Your relationship breaks down into two parts. The times you were long distance and the times you were together in-person. We help you identify your demonstrative evidence of both parts and combine them with your final Front Loaded.petition

By front loading your application with well chosen evidence, by telling your story to place you there in spirit, we set the tone for a short and sweet successful interview, ending with “Welcome to the USA ”.

About two weeks later, the consulate returns your partner’s passport with the visa stamped inside. It is usually shipped via a local courier service.

The courier delivers the passport to your partner’s home address, or if your partner prefers, she or he can arrange to personally pick the passport up at one of the courier’s offices.

The visa is valid for 6 months. The clock starts ticking on the date of the medical, not the date of the consulate interview so we recommend taking the medical close to the time of the consulate interview about 2 weeks prior.

Your partner has plenty of time to settle affairs, give notice, say goodbye to family and friends, pack, then leave for the USA.

The spouse visa application is called “regular immigration”. They know your partner Is coming to the USA to stay. So included in the application process is approval of and granting of permanent residence in the USA.

Immediately on arrival to the USA, your spouse can work, can travel in and out of the USA and remain with you. The actual Green Card, that drivers license sized card that proves this, arrives in the mail in about a month or two.

But wait ! The Green Card that arrives shows that it’s only good for two years. It is going to expire. This temporary green card is called a “conditional” green card.

At the start of the immigration process, for your partner to get permission to come to the USA we had to overcome US immigrations “guilty until proven innocent” attitude.

The reason that they only issue a temporary, Conditional green card is
because they are STILL cautious, they are still skeptical about your “romance” case and they want one more opportunity to catch you in fraud.

Before the two year deadline, we apply again to US immigration. This time we apply to upgrade your spouse’s temporary green card to get a permanent one.

This application is called “Removal of Conditions on Residence”. Once again, to be successful, we must demonstrate your relationship’s sincerity. Now we submit evidence of your last two years of living together in the USA Including bank accounts, and written statements from your friends and neighbors attesting to knowing you as a bona fide, genuine couple.

At the end of this process, your spouse finally gets a regular Green Card, this one is permanent without conditions.

For many this is the last stop on the US immigration journey. Your spouse has her or his green card, can reside in the USA as long as she or he wants.

However, for many, there is one more, one last Final step that is taken. And that is to apply for Naturalization to become a US citizen

Once your spouse has been a lawful resident for 2 years, and 9 months, your spouse is eligible to apply to become a US Citizen. On approval is able to vote in US elections and travel using a US passport. And of course, I and the VisaCoach team are there to help with this final application as well.

The couples Team VisaCoach helps become our friends and family. We are honored to guide you through each step of the immigration Journey. Starting from courtship to arrival on visa, to conditional and then unconditional permanent residency and finally all the way through to US naturalization and Citizenship


Fred Wahl
The VisaCoach
Your Personal Immigration Consultant