U.S. citizens legally married to a foreign national may petition for a IR-1/CR-1 visa. If the marriage is less than two years old, the consulate will issue a CR-1 Visa (and if longer than two years, it will issue a IR-1 Visa). The primary difference between these two visas is that a CR-1 Visa will result in Conditional Permanent Residency (requiring a petition to be filed later to lift this conditional status) versus a IR-1 Visa resulting in full Permanent Residency upon arrival in the US by the foreign spouse.
The interview can last for as little as 10 minutes or up to an hour depending upon your specific case. You relative will take an oath under US law to tell the truth, and it is very important that your relative answer every question as truthfully as possible. In general, it is a good idea that your relative bring documentation to prove strong ties and a relationship with you, the petitioner (i.e. phone bills, letters etc.) If the consulate officer approves your relative’s immigrant visa application, your relative will be issued an immigrant visa that allows your relative to become a US permanent resident. Your relative will become a U.S permanent resident only when he/she enters the U.S at a port of entry, until this time, he/she only has an immigrant visa that is valid up to six months from the interview date. If your relative cannot immigrate to the U.S within the six month allotted time, then his/her immigrant visa will expire, and the I-130 process must start all over again.
IR-1 (IR stands for “Immediate Relative”) Visas entitle their holder to receive Permanent Residency within the United States for a period of 10 years (may be renewed).
CR-1 (CR stands for “Conditional Residency”) Visas entitle their holder to receive “Conditional” Permanent Residency within the United States for a period of 2 years.
The deciding factor on which visa an applicant is issued (IR-1 versus CR-1 visa) is the amount of time that they have been married at the time the visa is issued. If an applicant has been married to their US Citizen spouse for a period of two years or greater they will be issued an IR-1 Visa. If they have been married less than two years they will be issued a CR-1 Visa. A CR-1 Visa will result in the applicant obtaining “conditional” permanent residency within the US and after a period of two years the applicant can apply to “Remove Conditions” 90 days before the conditional permanent resident card expires and they will be issued a regular 10 year green card.