IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa NVC Phase Summary
Finally, you made it to the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa NVC Phase. Congratulations. You made it to the Department of State, National Visa Center (NVC).
Things go a lot faster now in the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa NVC Phase. We hope you took our advice. For example, you got ready for the NVC stage during your long wait at USCIS. Are you ready?
The IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa NVC Phase consists of the following steps:
- Choose an Agent
- Pay Fees
- Submit Visa Application Form
- Collect Financial Documents
- Collect Supporting Documentation (We hope you started this a long time ago during the USCIS Phase.)
- Submit Financial and Supporting Documentation
- NVC Review of Documents
- NVC Issues a Case Complete, Request for Evidence (RFE) or Denial
Two weeks after you receive your NOA2 from USCIS, call NVC to see if they have your approved I-130. For this purpose, see our blog post, “Speed Up the NVC Process for U.S. IR-1 and CR-1 Spousal Visas by 5 Ways”.
NVC is located Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The telephone number is (603) 334-0700. Keep calling every few days until they confirm that they have the case. If they confirm that they have your case, ask for your Case Number and Invoice ID Number.
Also, make sure NVC has a working e-mail address for you and your beneficiary. For this purpose, NVC is now able to e-mail you information and instructions. Otherwise, they send information via slower traditional mail As a result, you receive items more quickly. For example, items include NVC’s responses to submitted documents and notice of your visa interview appointment.
Get your case number from the operator. Your case number consists of three letters followed by ten numbers. For example, the three letters consist of the abbreviation for the foreign embassy. Likewise, the numbers consist of the year and then number of visa.
NVC sends you a welcome letter or email. This letter or email outlines the NVC process for your IR-1 or CR-1 Spousal Visa. However, the letter or email comes very late. Therefore, call NVC for information instead of waiting for the letter.
Also, the welcome letter or email contains your Visa Case Number and an Invoice ID number. Save these numbers because you need them in the NVC process. In addition, the welcome letter contains, as an attachment, a bar coded form serves as a cover sheet to send your financial and supporting documents to NVC.
However, do not wait for the welcome letter or email to start the NVC process. For this purpose, see our blog post, “Speed Up the NVC Process for U.S. IR-1 and CR-1 Spousal Visas by 5 Ways”.
Check Case Status
Go to the U.S. Department of State, Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC), Visa Status Check. For example, use this to track your case. First, enter your visa case number. Then, your case status is shown.
If you have chosen to use Rapid Visa, they will assist you in navigating the NVC phase at no extra cost than your original fee.
Choose an Agent
The first step in the NVC process for an IR-1 or CR-1 Spousal Visa is to choose an agent.
The agent that is chosen receives communication from the NVC about your case. The beneficiary or petitioner can act. as the agent. Also, you may choose a family member, friend, attorney, immigration professional, or any other person you trust. In fact, most people chose the Petitioner as the agent. You may have an agent that represents you and the petitioner in the petition process with USCIS. However, you need to formally select an agent to represent you for your visa processing.
To choose your agent, complete the Choice of Address and Agent (DS-261) electronic form in the Consular Electronic Application Center.
It takes only a couple of days or up to 3 weeks for NVC to process your DS-261 before being allowed to continue to the next step.
After you have chosen your agent, pay your processing fees for the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa NVC Phase.
There are two processing fees: Affidavit of Support Fee (AOS Fee) and Immigrant Visa Fee.
The processing fees are paid online through the Immigrant Visa Invoice Payment Center. In order to pay these fees on-line, you need your bank routing number and checking or savings account number from a U.S. bank.
You need your NVC Case Number and Invoice ID Number located on the NVC Welcome Letter. Once you obtain this information, log into the Immigrant Visa Invoice Payment Center. After logging in, pay the fees. You cannot pay these two fees at the same time. In fact, the on-line system will make you to pay them one at a time. As a results, this takes a few days to do as the system will not let you pay the AOS fee until your check for the IV fee has cleared.
After submitting your payments online, wait up to 1 week. The wait is for NVC to process your fee payments before continuing to the next step. In fact, you are not able to access your Visa Application Form (Form DS-260) until NVC has processed your payments.
Visa Application Form
The next step in the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa NVC Phase is to complete the on-line Visa Application Form.
After the IV and AOS fees are paid, the online Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (Form DS-260) in the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) is completed. For this purpose, see a sample of the DS-260 application to determine the information required and see how to fill out the electronic form.
The NVC Case Number, Beneficiary ID Number, and Invoice ID Number are listed in the NVC Welcome Letter. These are needed to access CEAC.
Your spouse needs a passport from his/her foreign country by this point. Specifically, the passport information is part of the information for Form DS-260. Therefore, make sure that you are working on obtaining the passport during the USCIS Phase.
The form asks many questions about the Petitioner and Beneficiary. For example, it asks for previous addresses, employment, family questions and questions related to any illegal activities. Also, see our blog post, “Online Immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-260, Prepare and Complete“, for more information.
In addition, see our blog post. “Understanding DS-260 Confusing Questions” for more inforation on questions that are hard to understand.
Recommendation: The on-line form has a check box to automatically receive your Social Security card after you enter the U.S. We recommend that you do not check this box. The card arrives much faster if you go to your local Social Security office. Go to the local social security office after you get to the U.S..
Collect Financial Documents
After submit the visa application, financial documents need to be collected as part of the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa NVC Phase.
Actually, get a head of the game and collect these ahead of time to be ready. (pssssst… Do it while you are waiting in USCIS Stage!!!!).
Submit these documents the NVC. The Petitioner needs to perform the following:
- Complete an Affidavit of Support Form
- Obtain Financial Evidence
Minimum Income Requirement
See our previous blog post “Minimum Income Requirement K-1 Fiance(e) Visa and CR-1 Spousal Visa” to determine if you meet the minimum income as a sponsor. Otherwise, if you do not meet the minimum income, you may need a co-sponsor or show assets to meet the income requirements.
For the household number, count yourself, your beneficiary, and IR-2 or CR-2 children, any other dependents yu have. In addition, if you have a cosponsor, count the co-sponsor and any other dependents that he or she has.
Then, use the column for 125% of poverty to obtain the minimum income requirement.
Affidavit of Support
The Affidavit of Support is a document that an individual signs to accept financial responsibility for the beneficiaries. This is usually the petitioner. To illustrate, the person who signs the affidavit of support becomes the sponsor of the relative (or other individual) coming to live in the United States.
The sponsor must meet a minimum income requirements. The requirements are based on the total number of people in the household (existing and proposed new). However, if the sponsor does not meet the minimum income requirement, existing assets, total household income, and/or joint sponsor can be used. For this purpose, see the USCIS I-864P website page to see the minimum household income requirements.
There are several Affidavit of Support forms and you will need to determine which form(s) to use:
Which Form to Use
See the Department of State’s AOS Guide for a guide on which form(s) to use depending on your situation.
Use form I-864EZ only if you specifically meet the minimum income on your own without having to use a co-sponsor. In addition, in order to use I-864EZ, you must only be sponsoring your spouse and not any other dependents like IR-2 or CR-2 children. Also, in order to use I-864EZ, the income you are using to qualify is based entirely on your salary or pension and is shown on one or more Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form W-2s or 1099s provided by your employers or former employers. For example, you cannot use I-864EZ if you are using a co-sponsor or assets.
Use form I-864W, exemption from Affidavit of Support, only if you meet any of the following conditions:
- U.S. citizen and you are sponsoring a natural or adopted child, other than a stepchild, who is under 18 years old.
- Self-petitioning widow(er).
- Self-petitioning battered spouse or child.
- Sponsoring a child who will become a U.S. citizen immediately upon entry under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA).
- The applicant you are sponsoring has earned or can be credited with at least 40 eligible quarters under the Social Security Act.
Use Form I-864 for any of the following situations:
- You are not able to use I-864EZ or I-864W.
- There is more than one person that you are petitioning and sponsoring.
- You are using a co-sponsor to meet the minimum income.
- The income to prove minimum income is not based entirely on your salary or pension. Also if the income is not shown on one or more Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form W-2s or 1099s provided by your employers or former employers.
- You are using assets to prove minimum income.
Above all, the petitioner must always provide either I864EZ, I-864W or I-864. That being the case, even if using a co-sponsor, the petitioner must submit I-864.
If you use a co-sponsor, your co-sponsor must specifically provide proof of their US citizenship or Legal Permanent Residence.
For this purpose, Proof of US Citizenship can include any one of the following:
- U.S. birth certificate that meets the following requirements:
- Issued by the city, county, or state of birth
- Lists applicant’s full name, date of birth, and place of birth
- Parent(s)’ full names
- Signature of the city, county, or state registrar
- Date filed with registrar’s office (must be within one year of birth)
- Seal of issuing authority
- Fully valid, undamaged U.S. passport (can be expired)
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship
Proof of Legal Permanent Residence can include any one of the following:
- Form I-551 “green card;” or
- Foreign passport containing Form I-94 with I-551 stamp (if you entered the United States by land) or an electronic Form I-94 record (if you entered the United States by air or sea). You can request an electronic Form I-94 record from USCIS online.
In addition, the co-sponsor must provide an Affidavit of Support form.
If the co-sponsor is in the same household, then the co-sponsor must provide Form I-864A. In addition, all other household members must also provide I-864A.
If the co-sponsor is not in the same household, then the co-sponsor provides Form I-864.
In a like manner to the petitioner, the co-sponsor must provide financial documents to show meeting the minimum income requirement.
Refer to the Department of State’s web page on “Obtain Financial Evidence” for more detail.
In summary, the financial documents requirements specifically depend on several factors of the sponsor or co-sponsor including:
- Job based income with company or other entity
- Self employment based income
- Income based on pension or retirement
- Using assets to meet minimum income
See below for the financial document requirements for each of these conditions. Separate copies are required for any IR-2 or CR-2 children of the beneficiary.
Income based on Job with Company or Other Entity
For those whose income is based on employment with a company or other entity, provide the following:
- Last tax year’s copy of tax transcript. Although not a requirement, it may be beneficial to provide the last three years of tax transcripts.
- W2s for the last three tax years.
- Pay stubs for the last three months.
- A letter from your employer stating your employment status, when you started working, position, and annual salary. Also, make sure that the letter is on company letterhead and signed by a duly authorized person of the company.
Income Based on Self Employment
For those whose income is based on self employment, provide the following:
- Last tax year’s copy of tax transcript. Although not a requirement, it may be beneficial to provide the last three years of tax transcripts.
In addition, for those who are self-employed, obtain and submit a photocopy of one of the following:
- Your business license.
- A signed letter on business letterhead that was written within in the last three months.
- A contract between you as an independent contractor and a company.
However, if you are currently self-employed in any of the following ways, you do not need to obtain submit evidence of income:
- Babysitter, elderly caretaker, construction worker, handy person, housekeeper, landlord, musician, nanny, seamstress, tailor, artist, or writer.
Income Based on Retirement Income
For those who are unemployed or retired, obtain and submit a photocopy of last tax year’s copy of tax transcript . Although not a requirement, it may be beneficial to provide the last three years of tax transcripts.
In addition, for those who are unemployed or retired, obtain and submit a photocopy of ongoing income from other means, such as:
- retirement benefits (1099s or other documents);
- other household members’ income; or
- other significant assets.
Minimum Income based on Using Assets
Assets may be used to supplement income to meet the minimum income requirement. For example, funds in a bank account, equity in a home, equity in an automobile, or other approved assets may be used. However, the first car in a household may not be used.
- lists your name as the owner; and
- Includes the value of the asset expressed in currency.
Assets of the Petitioner are specifically calculated at 1/3 value. In other word, you need three times the minimum income requirement when using assets of the Petitioner.
Assets of a co-sponsor are specifically calculated at 1/5 value. In other word, you need five times the minimum income requirement when using assets of a co-sponsor.
A more detailed guide on obtaining financial evidence is found on the NVC web site, Financial Evidence Guide.
Collect Supporting Documentation
About the Documents
The next step in the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa NVC Phase is to collect supporting documentation.
After collecting the financial forms and supporting financial evidence , the beneficiary and any IR-2 or CR-2 children immigrating with the petitioner to the United States needs to collect civil documents to support the visa application. (Do this also ahead of time!!!! Do this during your USCIS Phase waiting time!!!)
- Don’t send originals to NVC. Only send photocopies of all the required civil documents to the NVC.
- Keep the originals (or certified copies) and make a photocopy of each of the required civil documents for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate interview.
The original civil documents you bring to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate must be issued by an appropriate authority.
All documents not written in English, or in the official language of the country in which you are applying for a visa, must be accompanied by certified translations. This takes time. On account of the time necessary, get a head start. In addition, the translation must include a statement signed by the translator stating that the:
- Translation is accurate, and
- Translator is competent to translate.
Firstly, review each item below and obtain any that apply to the beneficiary and/or immigrating children on the NVC checklist. Secondly, gather the documents that apply to you using the information below.
Your civil documents must be issued by an appropriate authority in your country. In addition, some embassies require certain document. Therefore, learn about the requirements for your country from your embassy website.
Then, send a photocopy of all required civil documents to NVC. In addition, list all of the documents that you submit on your NVC cover letter.
Also, bring the original documents (or certified copies) plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Gather and send copies of any of these supporting documents that apply to your situation:
If the immigrating child of the Beneficiary was adopted, submit all records Child’s of the adoption.
Obtain and submit a copy of the birth certificate for the Beneficiary and any child immigrating.
Court and Prison Records
If the Beneficiary and/or any child immigrating were convicted of a crime, obtain and submit a certified copy of each court and prison record, regardless of the fact that they may have been granted amnesty, a pardon, or other act of clemency.
Submit a copy of your marriage certificate.
Marriage Termination Documentation
If the Beneficiary has any marriage, obtain and submit a copy of all of the divorce certificates, annulments or death certificates. (Note only for the Beneficiary.)
If the Beneficiary served in the military of any country, then obtain and submit a photocopy of his/her military record.
For petitioner documents, specifically include the following as a requirement of the NVC checklist:
- Include a photocopy of the biographic data page of the petitioner’s valid passport. Specifically, the biographic data page is the page of the passport with your photograph, name, date, and place of birth.
- If the Petitioner had a previous marriage, obtain and submit a copy of the divorce, annulment or death certificate.
Valid, Unexpired Passport
The Beneficiary and each child immigrating submits a photocopy of the biographic data page of their valid passport as a requirement of the NVC checklist. Specifically, the biographic data page is the page of the passport with your photograph, name, date, and place of birth.
Submit for beneficiaries (spouse and Children) over 16 years of age police certifications as a requirement of the NVC checklist. Furthermore, submit from any country if needed. See our blog post on “Police Clearance Certificate US Visa” for more information.
NVC Checklist for IR-2 or CR-2 children
Children of the beneficiary need a separate NVC checklist. In addition, the need separate financial and supporting documentation. However, send them together in one package. Specifically separate them by rubber bands.
All NVC checklist documents not written in English, or in the official language of the country in which you are applying for a visa, must be accompanied by certified translations. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator stating that:
- The translation is accurate, and
- The translator is competent to translate.
Submit Checklist, Financial and Supporting Documentation
The next step in the IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa NVC Phase is to submit the checklist along with financial and supporting documentation.
Also, a cover letter is a great idea to use along with the submission.
The next page after your cover letter is the “NVC Checklist” or “Document Cover Sheet”. Remember, you received this with your NVC welcome letter and has a bar code at the top.
For the purpose of writing a cover letter and completing the checklist, see our blog post “NVC Checklist, Financial and Supporting Documentation- Spouse Visa“.
After you have completed the Affidavit of Support form(s) and collected the financial and supporting documents, it is time to submit the checklist, all the forms, financial evidence, photocopies of the supporting documents in ONE package to the NVC. For example, there could be a significantly delay in your case if you fail to submit all of your documents in one package.
If you have several cases, i.e. child of the Beneficiary, submit in the same package but separate them with a different binding clip. Also, to avoid documents from being lost at NVC, write the Visa Case Number on he top right of every page of your supporting documentation.
How to Send Documents
Depending upon your case number, the financial and supporting documents go to NVC in one of the following manners:
– Upload documents
– Mail in processing
– Email Processing
Method 1: Upload Documents
If you have receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) saying “You May Begin Online Processing”, then you must use the file upload documents method. For this purpose, scan and electronically save your financial forms and evidence, civil documents, and translations. For example, it is best to save these documents as a pdf file. Then, then upload your documents to your CEAC account online. CEAC is the Consular Electronic Application Center where you also pay fees and complete the Form DS-260 visa application
Method 2: Email Processing
If your NVC case number begins with one of the following prefixes, you send your documents in by email processing:
- BGH (except I-730 petitions)
Scan and email the financial forms and evidence, supporting documents, and translations to [email protected]. Most importantly, place your case number in the subject line of the email and keep your attachments below five megabytes (MB). Also, if you have more than one case, use a different email message for each case.
Again, for more information, review NVC’s Document Scanning FAQs.
Method 3: Mail processing
If none of the above methods apply to your case, mail your financial forms and evidence, supporting documents, translations, and photocopies, along with the Document Cover Sheet included with your NVC Welcome Letter, to the following address:
National Visa Center
31 Rochester Ave. Suite 100
Portsmouth, NH 03801-2914
Please mail all of these items together in one package. If you are sending documents for more than one case number, please mail each case number’s documents in a separate envelope.
If your Document Cover Sheet is missing, you can print a new one online. Go to ceac.state.gov and click on “Fee Payment” under the “Immigrant” category. You will be asked to enter your NVC case number and Invoice ID number. After doing so, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the “Print Document Cover Sheet” button. You can also choose to email yourself a copy of your document cover sheet for printing at a later time.
NVC cannot accept documents saved on any form of electronic media, including CDs and memory cards. If you send any electronic media to NVC, we will return it to you unopened.