Immediate Relatives: IR/CR Visa

FAQ

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Overview

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to immigrate to the United States. Immediate relatives include:

  • Spouse of a U.S. citizen (IR-1 / CR-1)
  • Unmarried children under age 21 of a U.S. citizen (IR-2 / CR-2)
  • Parents of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older (IR-5)

U.S. citizens who plan to petition for immigrant visas for their alien relatives based on family relationship must complete a Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Relative.

Step 1: File the Immigrant Visa Petition
If the petitioner resides in South Korea If the petitioner resides in the U.S.

U.S. citizen petitioners residing in Korea must file the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, by mail with the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility or online at https://www.uscis.gov/i-130. Please visit USCIS website for details.

Consular officers at the U.S. Embassy Seoul may accept filing of the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative in certain limited circumstances.


Exceptions for certain U.S. military service members and U.S. government employees:


Consular officers at U.S. Embassy Seoul may accept filing of the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives, filed by a U.S. citizen who is a U.S. government or military employee assigned to the U.S. Embassy Seoul, U.S. Consulate Busan, or a military service member stationed in Korea, for any immediate relative. This exception does not apply to service members assigned to an international organization, to service members on temporary duty orders, to Personal Service Contractors, or to U.S. Direct Hire employees on temporary duty or official visits.
Please schedule your appointment online by clicking here.

Note: Only the petitioner is required to schedule an appointment for filing I-130. The beneficiary may accompany the petitioner on the appointment date.


“Exceptional Situations”:


U.S. Embassy Seoul may accept filing of the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, from petitioners who believe they have exceptional situations that would merit an exception from filing by mail to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox.
USCIS published guidance (PDF 60KB) on circumstances that may qualify as exceptional.
If you believe that your situation merits an exception, please contact the Visa Information Services via email at support-korea@ustraveldocs.com to request an exception and explain your circumstances with proof in detail.

Due to limited appointment availability and a backlog of immigrant visa applications created by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Embassy Seoul has temporarily suspended acceptance of I-130 petitions based upon an imminent job transfer with very little notice. Petitioners that fall under this category must file their petitions with the USCIS Dallas Lockbox. USCIS does have a process for requesting expedited adjudication, and information on that process can be found on their website.


Note: If you do not meet the requirements described above but still schedule an appointment, your I-130 petition will not be accepted. U.S. Embassy Seoul may not accept filing of the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative if the petitioner has already filed a Form I-130 with the USCIS in the U.S. for the same beneficiary. If exigent circumstances exist, the petitioner should request expedited processing for the petition filed in the U.S. Please refer to the USCIS website for information about the process to request expedited adjudication.

File I-130 petitions at the USCIS service center in the United States having jurisdiction over their place of residence. A list of service centers is included in the instructions with downloadable Form I-130.

If the petition is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States, the case will be processed through the National Visa Center (NVC) in New Hampshire.  To apply for an immediate relative or family preference immigrant visa, follow the steps on the Immigrant Visa Process on travel.state.gov. Once you have completed those steps, review the instructions given to you by the NVC, along with the information presented on this website, for further guidance and instructions.
Step 2: Gather the Required Documents and Prepare for the Immigrant Visa Interview
If the I-130 was filed in Seoul If the I-130 was filed in the U.S.
If the petition is filed and approved by the Immigrant Visa Unit, U.S. Embassy, Seoul, you will receive the Instruction Package via email from the Immigrant Visa Unit.  You must schedule your appointment through the U.S. Visa Information Service online at www.ustraveldocs.com/kr or by calling the call center representative.  You must submit the Online Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online before the visa interview, and bring the forms and documents listed in the Instruction Package to the visa interview.  At the interview, you will also need to pay the immigrant visa application processing fee, which is a separate fee from the I-130 petition filing fee that you paid when you filed the I-130 petition.  You can learn more about the Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee on travel.state.gov.

 

When the petition is approved by USCIS in the United States, USCIS will send you a notice of approval, Form I-797. At the same time, they will also forward the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will contact your relative who is the intending immigrant with further information. The National Visa Center will process the case from fee collection to document gathering and will schedule an appointment for your relative. Your relative will be notified of his or her appointment date from NVC. NVC will then forward the approved petition to the U.S. Embassy in Seoul for the visa interview and adjudication.
Step 3: The Immigrant Visa Interview

On the interview date, a consular officer will adjudicate the application based on the visa interview and documents submitted at the interview by the applicant. Whether to issue the immigrant visa is up to the discretion of the interviewing officer.

Due to the limited space in our interview waiting room, only beneficiaries may enter; the petitioner may accompany the applicant. Other accompanying parties including friends, employees, or attorneys, must wait outside. Children under 18 years old may be accompanied by one parent or guardian to the interview.

Important:

1. Beneficiaries are strongly advised not to finalize travel arrangements, dispose of their property, or give up their jobs until after they have been issued visas. Quitting a job, leaving school, selling property and/or closing bank accounts prior to visa issuance may be risky, as in certain cases visa issuance may be delayed for some time.

2. If at the time of admission to the United States, you will have not celebrated the second anniversary of your marriage, which is the basis of your CR immigrant status, you are subject to the provisions of section 216 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Under these provisions, you will be granted conditional permanent residence by an officer of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the time of your admission to the United States. You and your spouse will be required to file a joint petition (Form I-751) with the DHS to have the conditional basis of your status removed. This petition must be filed within the ninety-day period immediately preceding the second anniversary of the date you were granted conditional permanent resident status. If a petition to remove the conditional basis of your status is not filed within this period, your conditional permanent status will be terminated automatically and you will be subject to deportation from the United States. You will be provided with written information about this status when your visa is approved and issued, which you should retain and use as a reference.

3. For USFK spouses who underwent a medical examination in connection with USFK’s pre-marriage approval process, please note that the immigrant visa medical exam is a separate examination required to be completed as part of the visa application process. It is not permitted to reuse examination results from the pre-marriage exam for your immigrant visa application regardless of the date on which that examination took place.