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US CR1 & IR1 Visas From Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

I am briefly going to discuss an overview of the Immigrant Visa and the Immigrant Visa process with a specific aim upon immigrant visas for the spouses of American citizens.

American citizens who wish to petition for immigration benefits for their spouse, specifically in this case we're going to be talking about Thai spouses; but we could be discussing a spouse of any nationality who is not a United States citizen. An American citizen may petition for immigration benefits for that spouse and the type of immigration benefit that we would be talking about, would be either a CR-1 Visa or an IR-1 Visa. The differentiation there will be, it's dependent upon the length of the underlying marriage. A quick note here up front. It should be noted that these type of visas are different although similar to what are known as  K-3 visas; in a different video we will be discussing K3 visas. For the purposes of this video we are specifically talking about immigrant spouse visas but I will tell you if you are looking at spouse visas please feel free, or please take note of this video and the content regarding immigrant visa benefits for spouses because K3 benefits are very, very unlikely to be of any assistance at  the present time to anyone seeking a spouse visa to the United States. So back on point, the IR-1 visa versus the CR-1 visa, what is the difference? The CR-1 Visa stands for Conditional Resident category 1 the IR-1 visa stands for Immediate Relative category 1. When we say category 1, we are talking about the preference category of the underlying petition. Those married to an American citizen get top billing, top rung for preference when being processed through Department of Homeland Security specifically the United States Citizenship and Immigration service, colloquially referred to as Immigration, sometimes called INS which was their precursor agency. That being said, the CR-1 stands for Conditional Resident because these are visas that are issued to spouses of United States citizens when the couple has been married for a duration of less than 2 years at the time of the immigrant spouses entry to the United States. Prior to the 2-year mark, the couple needs to go ahead and file for what is called " lift of conditionality" because basically the two-year requirement for the marriage, the underlying marriage, is to dissuade people from attempting to use marriages of convenience in order to get immigration benefits for what fundamentally  is a sham marriage. So a CR-1 Visa is issued for a couple who has been married for less than 2 years. An IR-1 Visa is issued to a couple who has been married for over 2 years. Now for practical purposes for immigration benefit purposes, for practical purposes I should say, the CR-1 Visa and the IR-1 Visa are going to process almost identically; again it's a spouse visa for the spouse of an American citizen. So what's going to happen is the initial petition is going to be filed with Department of Homeland Security, namely the USCIS, they are going to make their determination and assuming approval of that petition occurs that petition is then going to be sent to the Department of State who is going to route it through the National Visa Center at which point said case is going to go ahead and get a case number from which you can use that case number to go ahead and process that case through the United States Embassy, when we are  talking Thai cases, the United States Embassy here in Bangkok. It should be noted that the Immigrant Visas are always processed through the United States Embassy in Bangkok; some other visa categories are processed through the United States Consulate General up in Chiang Mai.  

A couple of things to note regarding the Immigrant Visa process is it may or may not be possible to file an immigrant visa petition locally here in Thailand. Some pretty strict residence requirements are required for those filing here in Thailand. Otherwise you would file one of those cases through the United States and the case will process through one of the various service centers within the United States, USCIS Service centers I should say. It may be possible, similar to a local filing through the Department of Homeland Security here in Thailand, it may also be possible to affect what it's called a direct Consular filing, a DCF . A direct Consular filing is filed directly with an embassy overseas. It should be noted the Department of State very rarely takes cases through Direct Consular filings as some form of serious dire emergency must be shown in order for DOS to take up one of those cases directly. So most of the time you're going to be dealing with USCIS and then USCIS is going to be sending all that stuff along to the Department of State. Once the Department of State gets ahold of the case, if the case is filed in the United States, we have to deal with what is called the National Visa Center, or NVC; they will be requesting a large number of documents from both the foreign spouse and the American citizen spouse. Assistance with compilation of said documents, translation of said documents, may or may not be necessary depending on the situation of the case and the upon NVC signing off that they have received all the necessary documents they will then go ahead and send it on to the United States Embassy Consular section here in Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok will then go ahead and set up a time and date for interview, and the spouse of the US citizen will go in for his or her interview and upon approval by the Consular section here at the embassy, a US Visa, specifically an  IR-1 or a CR-1 visa will be issued.  It should be noted, unlike the K-1 Visa the IR-1 or the CR-1 do not require what is called adjustment of status. The person with either one of those visas enters the United States immediately with immigration benefits, immigrant Visa benefits specifically. In fact the stamp that they're stamped into the United States on, actually will act as a temporary green card for one calendar year or until such time as an actual Green Card is issued by USCIS on the Department of Homeland Security in the United States.