US IR-1 Visa Application

US Visa in Thailand

When planning on immigrating to the United States, Thai citizen partners of US citizens have a wide range of different pathways to consider, depending on the nature of their relationship. For those couples who have been married for over 2 years, an IR-1 Visa is one of the best options for the Thai spouse to enter the US and gain permanent residence. For this visa, the Thai citizen spouse must be sponsored by a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR), who must be their legal spouse.

For marriages that are shorter than 2 years, the CR-1 visa is the appropriate option. For those couples who are not yet married but plan to do so in the United States, either the K-1 or K-3 Visa are appropriate options.

However, the IR Visas do not just include the IR-1. Under the IR visa category, other immediate relatives of the qualified sponsor can be petitioned to immigrate to the US. This means that applicants can also invite their children and their parents to experience the United States of America and all it has to offer. With such a visa, applicants not only gain entry to the US, but also the opportunity to lay the foundation for a new life for their family.

Who can qualify for an IR visa petition?

A US citizen or an LPR can file a petition for the IR visa for an immediate relative if that relative is:

  • Legally wedded to the sponsor for more than 2 years
  • A dependent child under 21 years old
  • A legal parent to either petitioner or spouse
The Petitioners

The petitioner is responsible for instigating the IR Visa application for the foreign relative who is interested in immigrating to the United States. A petitioner is required before the IR Visa application can even begin. The qualifications are as follows to become a sponsor for the IR-1 visa:

  • Must be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident living in the United States
  • Must meet the financial requirements following US Federal Poverty Guidelines
  • Must be at least 18 years old for IR-1 and IR-3; at least 21 years old for IR-5 petitions
  • Must have a domicile (residence) in the United States
The Beneficiaries

A beneficiary is an individual sponsored for the IR Visa application. They are immediate relatives of the petitioner and seek to acquire an IR Visa as a straightforward way for them to easily reside in the United States. The immediate relative/s can be eligible for the IR-1, IR-3, or IR-5 visa petition when the following requirements have been fulfilled on their end:

  • Spouse (IR-1)
    • Must present a legal marriage certificate
    • Must be able to show proof of ongoing long-term marital relationship with the US citizen petitioner
  • Children (IR-3)
    • Must be under 21 years old
    • Must be either single or unmarried
  • Parents (IR-5)
    • Must be the legitimate parent of a qualified IR sponsor who is 21 years old and above

IR Application Process

Here is an overview of the process for IR applications:

  1. The US citizen who is appointed as the sponsor initially files the IR petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. The National Visa Center (NVC) receives notification that the petition has been approved by the USCIS.
  3. The National Visa Center (NVC) then instructs both the petitioner and the IR applicant to submit the processing fees.
  4. After the processing fees are settled, the petitioner and the IR applicant are informed by the NVC about the required documents that need to be prepared and submitted.
  5. The applicant and the petitioner need to provide all the required documents in a timely manner to the local US Embassy to avoid any delay in the application.

In addition, all biographical data that will be obtained during the process must be accurate and complete. There are occasions when the NVC will request additional documentation from either the beneficiary or the petitioner, who is then required to respond appropriately and promptly.

Processing Time

As with all visa processes, it takes time before a visa can be issued. This period normally depends on the petitioner and the applicant's promptness in furnishing the required documents once notice from the NVC is received. On average, it can take between 1 year to 18 months to be issued an IR-1 or CR-1 visa from the date of the petition.

After receiving your IR-1 Visa

Successfully earning an IR-1 Visa and landing on US soil grants the holder the right to apply for permanent residency, and later even puts them on the path toward US citizenship.

  1. Upon acquiring their IR-1 Visa, the applicant enters a period known as the "Adjustment of Status".
  2. The IR visa holder can then consider applying for permanent residency. This would mean having to apply for a US Green Card as a starting point.
  3. In order to initiate this, the visa holder will need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence with the USCIS.

During the time in which the applicant is waiting for their Green Card to be issued, they are allowed to work during their stay within the country. The timeline for the Green Card may vary depending on the situation.

US Immigration Thailand

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Ken Graham

Ken Graham
US Immigration Attorney
Partner, Siam Legal International

Linda Pringpuangkeo

Natdaphon Luengsawang
Senior US Visa Consultant
Siam Legal International

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