Integrity Legal

9th July 2009

For Thai-American couples seeking Lawful Permanent Residence (Green Card) in the United States for the spouse of an American Citizen the options are either the CR-1 or IR-1 visa. A CR-1 (Conditional Resident) visa provides conditional lawful permanent residence to the visa holder while the IR-1 (Immediate Relative) visa provides unconditional permanent residence upon entry into the United States.  An often asked question with regard to these visas: what is the difference?

When seeking a United States visa for a Thai spouse, the classic method of obtainment is through filing an I-130 visa application. After the I-130 is approved by either a USCIS Service Center in the United States or USCIS Field office abroad, it will be forwarded to a US Diplomatic post that adjudicates Immigrant visas. In Thailand, the US Embassy in Bangkok processes all US Immigrant visa petitions. Assuming that a visa is ultimately approved, the Thai spouse shall be entitled to travel to the USA in order to take up residence.

For those holding a visa conferring conditional permanent residence, it will be necessary to eventually file to have the conditionality of the visa lifted. In practical terms, this means that the Thai wife’s residence will no longer be based upon her marriage to an American citizen.  Instead, the permanent residence will become independent and unconditional. For those who enter the USA on a conditional resident visa and subsequently end their marriage during the conditional period, loss of permanent residence is highly likely.

Some people confuse the lift of conditions with adjustment of status. In cases involving a K-1 visa for a Thai fiance, adjustment of status is the process of obtaining conditional permanent residence for the fiancee (now wife) after marriage in the United States.  For those couples who adjust status in the US, after the adjustment interview, should the application be approved, the adjustment date will be that written on the adjustment of status approval letter from USCIS.

One must file for a lift of conditions within 90 days of the two year anniversary of the the Thai spouse taking up residence, in the case of adjustment the two year anniversary will be marked from the date of  adjustment approval. For the Thai who enters on a CR-1 visa, it will be the date the Thai spouse entered the USA.

In order to obtain a lift of conditions the I-751 application must be filed with an approved by USCIS. After approval, the Thai spouse may remain in the United States permanently.

For related information please see: Thailand permanent residence

(This post is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be legal advice. No lawyer/client relationship is formed by reading this information.)


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