CR/IR-1 Denials: Top reasons for denials and what to do about it?

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers a hot topic that has been frequently asked by our followers: what are the top reasons for CR/IR-1 immigrant visa denials and what can you do about it.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


What is a CR-1/IR-1 visa?

A CR-1 or IR-1 visa is an immigrant visa for a spouse of a United States Citizen who is residing abroad. The term “CR” in CR-1 stands for “conditional resident” and is issued to foreign spouses who have been married for less than 2 years. By contrast the term “IR” in IR-1 stands for “immediate relative” and is issued to foreign spouses who have been married for more than 2 years. Those who receive a CR-1 visa will eventually receive a 2-year conditional green card after entering the United States, while those who receive an IR-1 visa will receive a 10-year green card (without condition).

The first step to apply for a CR-1/IR-1 visa is for the U.S. Citizen spouse to file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign spouse. This petition initiates the immigration process to the United States. Once Form I-130 is approved by USCIS, the petition is transferred to the National Visa Center for pre-processing. At the National Visa Center stage, the applicant must complete the immigrant visa application and provide civil documentation. After sending all required documents to the National Visa Center, the NVC will forward the case to the U.S. Embassy near the foreign spouse and the applicant will wait to be scheduled for an Embassy interview. The Embassy interview is often a make it or break moment for couples who must prove that they have a “bona fide” marriage to be approved for their visa.

What are the top reasons for CR/IR-1 denials?

#1 Not meeting the income requirement for the affidavit of support

The number one reason for spousal visa denials is failing to meet the income requirement for the affidavit of support. As part of the spousal visa application process, the U.S. Citizen spouse must sign the I-864 Affidavit of Support, which is a legally enforceable contract between the U.S. Citizen and the government wherein the U.S. Citizen must sign under penalty of perjury that they have the adequate means to financial support the alien and the alien will not rely on the U.S. government for financial support.

What is the income requirement?

The minimum amount that the U.S. Citizen must make depends on his or her household size. In general, petitioners must make at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. However, exceptions exist for petitioners who are on active duty in the U.S. armed forces. Petitioners who do not satisfy the income requirement must apply with a joint sponsor, who must also sign a separate I-864 Affidavit of Support and provide evidence of financial ability. If the petitioner and joint sponsor do not qualify, the spousal visa application will be denied.

To prevent this situation from happening petitioners must make sure well in advance of filing the I-130 application, that they either meet the income requirement, or that they can obtain a joint sponsor who is willing and able to sign the affidavit of support and provide the necessary documentation.

#2 The Consular officer is not convinced the couple has a bona fide marriage

The second most common reason for denial is where the consular officer is not convinced that the couple has a bona fide marriage. In this case typically the applicant has not provided enough evidence to show that the couple maintains a real marriage. As a general matter, applicants must demonstrate bona fide marriage by providing documentation such as photographs of the couple together throughout the relationship, evidence of cohabitation if living together, any joint accounts the couple may have together, record of constant communication if living apart (emails, text messages, phone records) etc.

Couples should know the type of documentation that must be provided at the time of the interview well in advance. Many couples fail to maintain an adequate record of the relationship and accidentally throw away important receipts, as well as other important documentation that could be very useful in showing that the marriage is legitimate. To overcome such a denial, be organized and be prepared ahead of time.

#3 The Consular officer finds the applicant inadmissible to enter the U.S.

The third most common reason for a denial is where the consular officer finds the applicant inadmissible to enter the United States. The types of violations that can make a person inadmissible may include previous visa overstays in the United States of long duration, falsely claiming U.S. Citizenship in the past, being accused of immigration fraud or misrepresentation in the past or at the time of the interview, or any other reason that the consular officer determines that you are inadmissible to the U.S. If you are found inadmissible to the U.S. for any of these reasons, you may be able to overcome your denial by applying for the appropriate waiver assuming you qualify for such a waiver. The type of waiver that must be filed depends on the type of immigration violation (also known as ground of inadmissibility).

If you believe there is anything in your immigration history that could make you ineligible to receive your spousal visa, you should consult with an experienced attorney before filing, who can review your immigration record and come up with a plan of action to overcome a possible denial. In such cases it is not recommended for applicants to file on their own because the immigrant visa application requires applicants to disclose any previous immigration violations. Failing to disclose such information on the application could result in serious consequences at the time of the interview.

1-year period to cure denial

It is important to note that even after receiving a denial of your spousal visa, you will have one year to provide more documentation to try to overcome the denial. We recommend that you try to provide additional documents within 30 days of your denial date. If you fail to provide additional documents during the 1-year period, your case will be closed, and you will need to re-apply and begin the process from the beginning.

What should you do if you have received a denial?

It is important to note that in most situations visa denials can be overcome. Those who have received a denial should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to fully understand the reasons behind the denial. Only then can your attorney discuss your options and explain what types of relief you may be eligible for. In certain circumstances, attorneys can engage the assistance of a Congressman or contact the post directly to resolve a denial.  In other situations, your attorney may recommend that you re-file your application from the beginning or provide additional documentation. This will of course depend on the underlying reasons for the denial.

For those who are deemed inadmissible to the United States, a waiver will likely be required. In this instance you should not hesitate to contact an attorney to discuss whether you are eligible to apply for a waiver to help you overcome the denial.

Where can I find more information?

Please check out our helpful links below and be sure to look out for updates on our Youtube channel. 

Questions? If you have immigration questions and would like to schedule a consultation, please call 619-819-9204 or text 619-483-4549.

Helpful Links


Need more immigration updates? We have created a brand new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments in immigration related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.