US Embassy Seal for emabassy where IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interviews are performed.

IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase

Inbound Immigrant health insurance for immigrant visa and green card holders

Prepare for the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase InterviewWoman studying on a roof in preparing for her IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview

Summary

In this section, we specifically discuss how to prepare for the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview.

NVC schedules the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy serving your spouse’s foreign country. NVC sends the Beneficiary, the Petitioner, and your agent/attorney, if applicable, an email or letter noting the appointment date and time.

Important: Print out and keep the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview appointment email or letter. Most importantly, bring this to the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview. To explain, this is your “Invitation” to get into the embassy. In fact, they turn away people that do not have the appointment email or letter.

Interview Preparation Assistance

If you have signed up our personal services, we assist you through the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase. Furthermore, we do it at no extra cost than your original fee. For this purpose, we give you guidance on scheduling the embassy interview, likely interview questions, medical exam requirements of your specific country, signing up for the courier service, the new healthcare requirement and documents that you need to bring to the interview.  We help with any other specific requirements of your specific country or U.S. Embassy.

Prepare for the Interview

After you receive the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview appointment email or letter from NVC, start preparing for the interview by:

  1. Schedule and Complete the Medical Examination
  2. Register for Courier Services
  3. Perform any Specific Requirements in the email/letter or that the specific U.S. Embassy or Consulate Requires
  4. Gather Documents Required for the Interview
  5. New Update: Provide Proof of Health Care Coverage
  6. Prepare for Interview Questions
  7. Read Additional Information

Don’t Buy Your Airline Ticket until After the Interview

Important: We recommend that you do not buy your airline tickets to the U.S. until you have your Visa in hand.  Buying the ticket ahead of time, especially a non-refundable ticket, is an extreme risk. There are many things that can delay you in the embassy phase. For example, delays include complications during the medical examination,  complications during the interview. Even in the worse case, denial of the visa is a possibility.

Schedule and Complete the Medical Examination

As part of the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase, schedule and complete the medical examination.

Kid getting an xray as part of a K-1 Fiance Visa Embassy Phase or IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase medical exam.

The Beneficiary and each applying child, if applicable, are required to complete a medical examination with an authorized physician in the country where you will be interviewed. NVC will not schedule the medical examination for you. You need to schedule the examination yourself. The letter or email from NVC will indicate how to schedule the examination.

The medical examination(s), along with any required vaccinations, MUST be completed before your scheduled visa interview date. This exam must be with an embassy-approved doctor.  Exams conducted by other physicians will not be accepted.

Read embassy-specific instructions and get a list of approved doctors on NVC’s Medical Examination page. After the examination, the clinic or physician will either send the exam results directly to the embassy or give you a sealed envelope.  If the doctor gives you a sealed envelope, do not open it.  Instead, bring it to your visa interview and give it to the consular officer.

We do have information on the medical exam specifically for the Philippines.

St. Luke Extension Clinic (SLEC)is specifically the Philippine U.S. Embassy’s accredited panel physician. In other words, SLEC is the only medical facility in the Philippines for a U.S. Visa medical examination.

SLEC is located at 1177 J. Bocobo Street in the Ermita District of Manila.

With regards to medical examination for the Philippines, see our blog posts below:

For all other countries see NVC’s Medical Examination page for information.

Register for Courier Service/Other Pre-Interview InstructionsRegister Here for courier services as part of the K-1 Fiance Visa Embassy Phase or IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase

Many U.S. Embassies and Consulates require visa applicants to pre-register for courier services. The registration is done during the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase.
 
For this purpose, NVC send you a letter explaining how to register for courier services specifically for your embassy.
 
To register online, go to the website (http://www.ustraveldocs.com). Once there, navigate to your area and country. Then under “Immigrant Visas” click on “Select Document Delivery Address” to register a delivery address for the first time .
 
To change an existing delivery address click the link “More Actions”. Moreover, you can change the deliver address or pick-up location up to your embassy interview date. In other words, after your embassy interview, you cannot change the delivery option.
 
This courier service is for returning applicant passports and visas to them after the interview.
 
Each embassy or consulate has unique entry and security requirements. For example, the requirements include whether applicants can bring electronics including cell phones into the embassy or consulate.
 
Before your IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview, read the specific requirements for the embassy or consulate of your interview. Specifically, go to that embassy website.

Gather Documents Required for the InterviewA folder containing gathered documents for the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview.

Every visa applicant no matter their age must bring certain documents to the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview. For example, these documents include original version of all civil documents submitted to NVC and copies of those documents. In addition, bring the financial documents from the petitioner and any other financial sponsors.  Specifically, bring all of the documents that you sent to USCIS and NVC.

Remember that you submitted copies to NVC.  Bring your originals or certified copies. You should bring the documents if you submitted a photocopy of them to NVC.

Also bring an album of your photos with you and your spouse.

What happens if you forget to bring something that you need to the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview?  The consular officer will not be able to complete the processing of your visa. You will have to gather the missing items and provide them to the embassy, and may have to come for additional interviews. Failure to bring all items on the above list can delay visa issuance.

Health Care Requirement

Update 11/2/19: On November 2,2019, a federal judge blocked the new rule requiring immigrant visa applicants to prove they have or can get health insurance within 30 days or can afford medical costs from going into effect Sunday. Therefore, the new requirement below is on hold pending court action.

Starting on November 3, 2019, immigrants applying for visas to the United States will be required, at their embassy interview, to either show proof of insurance in the U.S. or prove they can pay for health care, within 30 days of entering the country, as a condition of receiving the immigrant visa.

For more information on this new requirement, see the Department of State, Presidential Proclamation on Health Care.

The following are exempt from this requirement:

  • Individuals who are holding (or who held) a valid immigrant visa as of November 3, 2019.
  • Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and their spouses and children  (SI and SQ visas).
  • Applicants who are children, whether adopted, biological, and step-children, of a U.S. citizen applying in the IR-2, CR-2, IR-3, IR-4, IH-3, or IH-4 visa classifications.
  • Returning Resident SB-1 applicants.
  • Applicants for K fiancé(e) visas and other aliens entering the United States without an immigrant visa, including lawful permanent residents, refugees, and asylees.
  • Applicants for IR-5 visas and alien seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an IR-5 visa, provided that the alien or the alien’s sponsor demonstrates to the satisfaction of the consular officer that the alien’s healthcare will not impose a substantial burden on the United States healthcare system.
  • Any alien under the age of 18, except for any alien seeking to accompany a parent who is also immigrating to the United States and subject to this proclamation.
  • Any alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State or his designee based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee.
  • Any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State or his designee on a case-by-case basis.

If you are not covered by the exceptions, you must show to the consular officer or immigration official that you are covered by an approved health insurance, will be covered by approved health insurance within 30 days of entry to the United States or that you have the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs. 

Approved health insurance includes: 

  • Employer-sponsored health plans, including retiree plans.
  • Unsubsidized health plans offered in the individual market within a State.
  • Short-term, limited duration health plans effective for a minimum of 364 days or until the beginning of planned, extended travel outside the United States.
  • Catastrophic plans.
  • Coverage by a family member’s health plan.
  • U.S. military health plans, including TRICARE.
  • Visitor health insurance plans with adequate medical coverage for a minimum of 364 days or until the beginning of planned, extended travel outside the United States.  We offer Inbound Immigrant health insurance through VisitorsCoverage which is an acceptable visitor health insurance plan.
  • Medical plans under the Medicare program.
  • Any other health plan with adequate coverage as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services

For individuals over the age of 18, approved health insurance does not include coverage under the Medicaid program. 

Requirement at visa interview 

During the visa interview, applicants should be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they have the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs or will have approved health insurance from the list above within 30 days of entry into the United States.  Officers will review the medical and financial documentation that is already part of the applicant’s case file and may request additional information or documentation as needed. Prior to the visa interview, applicants may wish to review costs and eligibility requirements for approved health insurance plans or consider how they would pay for the reasonably foreseeable medical costs of any current medical condition they may have.   

Read Additional Information

Read NVC’s Interview Preparation Notices and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website where the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview is held for additional information. You can also read NVC’s Frequently Asked Questions. Remember, failure to bring all required documents to the interview may cause delay or denial of the visa.

Visa Applicant Interview

Interview Preparation

U.S. Embassy Seal where a interview occurs during the K-1 Fiance Visa Embassy Phase

The applicant (Beneficiary) and all children of the applicant obtaining a IR-1/CR-1 Visa and IR-2/CR-2 visa, if applicable, are REQUIRED to attend the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview together. The Petitioner does not need to attend the interview. However, we recommend that you do attend. The Petitioner is allowed to attend for some embassies. Therefore, check the requirements for your embassy.

Check your date and time of your interview appointment provided in your interview appointment letter and arrive at the embassy ahead of schedule.  The staff at the embassy entrance directs where to go or line up.

Read the instructions for your embassy on what you can and can’t bring to the interview. Most embassies do not allow any electronics including cell phones.

Prepare for these interview questions by reading our previous blog post, “Spouse Visa Interview Questions at US Embassy Interview“.

It is also a good idea to read our previous blog post, “Using Social Media During U.S. Visa Application Process“.

At the Interview

Security

The first step will be to go through security.  First, you go through a metal detector. At this point, you can be searched. Next, you go to a window where you turn in your appointment letter. After that, you go to another window where you take an oath that everything that you say or provide is true.

Fingerprinting

After that you go to another window for fingerprinting.  At the finger print window, there is an embassy staff person that takes the fingerprints of the applicant obtaining a IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa. Also, any children obtaining a IR-1/CR-2 Visa get finger printing.

Interviews

After fingerprinting, the applicant(s) go to another window where there is a consular officer. This officer is most likely of the nationality of the country you are in. The officer takes certain documents that you have brought. The officer definitely takes all of the applicants passports, health care information and medical envelope, if you were given them by hand at the medical appointment. They look at or take other supporting documents that you brought. The consular officer asks you some questions. If you want, you can have a translator present.

Prepare for these interview questions by reading our previous blog post, “Spouse Visa Interview Questions at US Embassy Interview“.

It is also a good idea to read our previous blog post, “Using Social Media During U.S. Visa Application Process“.

If you have everything in order and answered the questions to the satisfaction of the officer, you will be directed to a second consular officer window.

After the first consular interview, you go to a second consular window. This consular officer is typically an American Consular. First, the consular looks through all of your documents. Secondly, the officer asks you to show him or her other documents that you have brought. Also, the consular might take these documents.  Finally, the second consular officer asks questions. A translator is available upon request.

The consular tells you if you are approved. On the contrary, if not approved, they request additional information and reschedule. Also, you are told if you are denied.

Interview Exit

If approved, the consular hands you a Rights and Protections pamphlet.  This pamphlet explain your rights in the United States relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. Also, it tel the protections available to you.

Next, They tell how to get your passport back along with an approximate time frame. The interview is over.  Yeah!!!!!

If you need to bring additional information, the consular explains what information you need to gather and bring back.  The consular tells you how to reschedule another appointment. Reschedule your appointment on your way out.

If you are denied, the consular informs you why you were denied a visa.

Remember: The U.S. Embassy keeps the Applicant’s passport as they affix the visa inside the page.  The Applicant(s) get their passport back when the visa is provided by the courier service. The passport is inside the first envelop.  Open the first envelop to retrieve the passport. DO NOT open the second envelop.


After the Interview
Airplane, tickets, fare and pack

Passport/Visa and Sealed Immigration Package

Visa Preparation

After you pass the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa Embassy Phase interview, the embassy or consulate prepares your immigrant visa. The visa is put on one of the pages in your passport. This usually takes 3-7 days, but can take longer. Your passport with visa inside is put in a package of the courier service along with a sealed a sealed immigrant package.

See our blog post, “Track Visa Status After US Embassy Interview“.

Courier Delivery

The courier delivers the package to you. The deliver it at the place you instructed during registering with the courier. The courier texts the probable day and time of delivery. In most cases, package can picked be up at an office of the courier.

See our blog post, “Track US Visa Using USTravelDocs Website Any Embassy“.

Specifically for the Philippines, see our blog post, “Track US Visa Philippines Using ToGo“.

Note: You need another form of ID besides your passport to pick up the package as your passport is in the package.

The courier gives you the package. Open the courier’s outside package and retrieve your passport and the sealed immigration package:

Very Important: Do not open the sealed immigration package.  This MUST remain sealed until you reach the U.S. Port of Entry where a U.S. Customs officer will open the package.

Now, book your tickets to the United States.

Booking Tickets

Because you really shouldn’t book your tickets until you have your Visa in hand, you will most likely be booking tickets at the last minute since you probably want to go to the U.S. as soon as you can.



Pay USCIS Immigrant Visa Fee

About the USCIS Immigrant Fee

If you are immigrating to the United States as a lawful permanent resident, you must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee online unless you meet one of the exemptions.. We recommend that you to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee after you pick up your immigrant visa from the Department of State and before you depart for the United States.

The USCIS Immigrant Fee is $220. The fee is used to recover USCIS costs related to immigrant visas issued by the U.S. Department of State at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. USCIS uses this fee to process your immigrant visa packet and produce your Permanent Resident Card (commonly known as a Green Card). The fee covers the cost of USCIS processing, filing and maintaining immigrant visa packets, plus the cost of producing Permanent Resident Cards.

For more information on the USCIS Immigrant Fee, go the the USCIS web site on the USCIS Immigrant Fee.

How to Pay the Fee

Pay the fee by going to the USCIS website File-Online. You need to have your A-Number and DOS Case ID, which can be found on your immigrant data summary, USCIS Immigrant Fee handout, or immigrant visa stamp.

If you cannot pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee, a family member, friend, employer, attorney or accredited representative can pay for you. If someone pays the fee for you, they will need your Alien Number (A-Number) and Department of State (DOS) Case ID.

What if you do not Pay the Fee

You may also pay the fee after you arrive in the United States. If you arrive in the United States and haven’t yet paid the USCIS Immigrant Fee, USCIS will send you a notice requesting payment with instructions on paying your fee. You will not receive your Green Card until you have paid the USCIS Immigrant Fee.

If you do not pay the fee within the time listed in the notice, you will not receive your Green Card.  Failure to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee will not affect your status as a lawful permanent resident, but you will only have evidence of your lawful permanent status for one year from the date of your admission, as evidenced by the temporary I-551 stamp placed in your passport by CBP at the time of your admission.

Exemptions

The following groups do not have to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee:

  • Children who enter the United States under the orphan or Hague adoption programs;
  • Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants;
  • Returning lawful permanent residents (SB-1s); and
  • K non-immigrants.

Travel to the United StatesWoman with packed luggage and ready to travel

You are now ready to pack and travel to the United States.

See our blog post, “Leave Home Country Preparations for K-1 Fiance and IR-1 CR-1 Spouse Visa Holders“.

Don’t risk being denied entry to the United States based on bringing something prohibited or restricted. See the US government’s list of Prohibited and Restricted items  not to bring to the United States. For example, certain items like fruits, vegetables, plants, or dangerous items are on a ban list.

Remember: You have six months from the time you receive your Visa to immigrate to the U.S. You must enter the United States no later than the visa expiration date printed on your visa. The immigrant visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance unless your medical examination expires sooner, which may make your visa valid for less than six months.

 

Go to the Next Phase:

Port of Entry (IR-1/CR-1)