In Texas, if you apply for a visa outside of the United States, you must undergo a production called consular processing. The process is also referred to as IR-1 or CR-1 visas.
How consular processing works
By immigration law, if you apply for a visa in your home country, the application goes to the local U.S. consulate or embassy.
Consular processing differs from AOS (Adjustment of Status). The latter is for a green card applied for in the U.S. With consular processing, the applicant has to wait in their native country until the U.S. green card gets approved.
LIke AOS, consular processing has its application forms, timelines, supporting documents and fees. Overall though, both visas have the same eligibility requirements.
In general, the approval consular process is often quicker than the AOS.
Who should use consular processing
Any person in their native country who qualifies for a green card via, say, employment or marriage can apply with consular processing. With a marriage-influenced application, you will need a spouse visa first before beginning consular processing.
If you’re not married to a U.S. citizen, expect a longer wait for a visa number.
IR-1 vs. CR-1
When you apply, you receive either a VR-1 or IR-1 visa.
The U.S. issues a CR-1 when a marriage is less than two years old upon approval. The green card will be “conditional” and valid for two years from the approval date. After the visa expires, the foreign spouse will need to apply for a 10-year green card. But one can only accomplish this if you file for Removal of Conditions. That’s asking the U.S. to negate your two-year status to begin the 10-year card process.
The IR-1 visa gets presented to a marriage older than two years at the time of green card approval. The green card is already valid for 10 years. The foreign spouse will not need to have conditions removed.
Consular processing timeline
While the consular process is quicker than the AOS system used inside the United States, it’s no hop, skip or jump to success. The period between having the petition approved and getting a visa number can take four to six months.