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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawUS Immigration LawThe IR-1 and CR-1 Visa Process in the Aftermath of COVID-19

The IR-1 and CR-1 Visa Process in the Aftermath of COVID-19

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the Immigrant Spouse Visa; specifically that is the IR-1 and the CR-1 visas. 

For those who are unaware, a CR-1 Visa is the conditional resident spouse visa for the spouse of an American citizen if the couple has been married less than two years of the time of that spouse's entry to the United States. The IR-1 Spouse Visa is and the IR-1 may refer to other things, but the IR-1 spouse visa is also for the Immigrant Spouse of an American citizen or sometimes a lawful permanent resident arriving in the United States in immigrant spousal visa status who has been married more than two years at the time of entry to the United States. 

We are specifically talking about these visa categories in the aftermath of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic and the implications associated with the Immigration apparatus that have arisen in response I should say to some extent from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many government services were interrupted during the Coronavirus pandemic not least of which was the Immigration apparatus was not doing in person adjudication matters. We also saw and are seeing as of the time of this video, the Visa units, both the Immigrant Visa Unit and a Non-immigrant Visa unit at US Embassies abroad, the ones we have seen firsthand the US Embassy here in Bangkok, Thailand; the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos. All of those posts are currently at the time of this video not processing any visa interviews and therefore not processing out any visas themselves.  I definitely think that those posts are going to reopen but what is the Immigrant spouse visa process going to look like after COVID-19?  

One big thing I think that is going to change is medical exam requirements. Now this might not happen immediately but I do think that we are going to see medical exam requirements that are going to want to be trying to ascertain whether or not somebody has COVID-19. They are trying to screen people, make sure they are not bringing anybody into the United States that might have the virus. 

Meanwhile, I also think we may see further backlogs associated with Immigrant Spouse Visas or at least longer time frames than we have seen in the past. It remains to be seen how long these backlogs will remain. It has been my experience that for example after government shutdowns in the past or in the case here in Thailand where the Immigrant Visa unit closed due to things that were going on here in the country, the officers in those government departments do a pretty good job of getting on top of their caseload and clearing it out. They generally speaking want to run for lack of better term a “tight ship” and make sure that these cases are processed out quickly.

So I think in the aftermath of COVID-19 we may very likely be seeing further backlog. This may make it advisable to file a K-3 spouse visa petition to expedite the processing of a spouse's entry to the United States; that remains to be seen. Backlogs and differences in medical exams I think are something we can presume will happen in the aftermath of COVID-19 to the Immigrant Spouse Visa process.