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The Immigrant Visa (CR1, IR1) Process
The Immigrant Visa was the classic method of bringing a foreign loved on to the United States of America. As a result, the Immigrant Visa Process is one of the oldest methods of obtaining a visa for a foreign born husband or wife. In Thailand there are two routes that can be followed to obtain an Immigrant visa for a Thai spouse.
The first method involves a local filing of an I-130 petition at the office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service in Bangkok (also known as USCIS Bangkok). In order to submit an IR1 or CR1 application locally the US Citizen must meet USCISís definition of resident. Once residence is established the USCIS office will likely accept the I-130 petition and the petition will be processed from Thailand.
The IR1 or CR1 Visa Process for most applicants will not involve a local filing as most US Citizen petitioners are not resident in the Kingdom of Thailand. Therefore, the visa process will be markedly different. In many cases, the US Citizen will be required to submit an I-130 application to USCIS. USCIS will initially send out what is called Notice of Action 1, this notifies the applicant that the application has been received and is pending adjudication. Should the application be approved USCIS will send the US Citizen or his attorney Notice of Action 2 informing the petitioner of the applicationís approval.
At this phase of the visa process the visa application will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). This aspect of the IR1 or CR1 visa process is different from the K1 visa process or the K3 visa process because NVC conducts a more thorough background check and further documentation must be submitted before the case will be forwarded onward to the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. The NVC Processing time for Immigrant visas is a major reason why the classic immigrant visas (IR1, CR1) take relatively longer to process than the K1 fiance visa or the K3 marriage visa.
Once the Embassy receives the Immigrant visa application from NVC, they will notify the Thai beneficiary and an appointment for interview will need to be set. The visa interview is a cause of anxiety for many Thai applicants, but prior preparation usually neutralizes some of the pre-interview jitters and makes the Thai applicant more comfortable. Should the Consular officers approve the petition, the visa is usually issued shortly thereafter. In some cases a 221g denial is issued which is basically a denial of the petition pending further documentation. As a general rule, once the follow-up documentation is submitted, the visa will be issued. In cases involving waivers of inadmissibility the visa application will be denied until a waiver is granted. After approval of an I-1601 waiver petition, the application will be sent back the Embassy for visa issuance.
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