The CR1 visa process is quite a bit different from the K1 visa process, especially when it comes to the National Visa Center. As far as processing times, the longest part takes place with USCIS. You’re looking at around five to six months at USCIS for the removal of conditions. You’re usually about two to three months at the National Visa Center and then another month at the US Embassy. Among these 3 major phases, the longest wait is generally USCIS.
What do they actually do at the National Visa Center?
The NVC does quite a bit more for a CR1 spousal visa than they do for a K1 fiancé visa. With the CR1, they’re going to be looking at supporting documents, civil documents which could be the copy of the passport, the birth certificate, the divorce decrees, things like that. They’re also going to want to see the police certificate, certificate of no marriage (in the case of the Philippines), or certificate of singleness, and then for the financial side, they will want to see the affidavit of support. They’ll look at tax returns, pay statements – proof of your income. They actually gather up all these documents and they will not reach out to the US Embassy and schedule the interview until they have received all those documents. That’s another important role that the National Visa Center plays. They actually communicate with the US Embassy in the country of origin to schedule the interview. They also send out the letters with invoices to collect payment for the actual visa application and they’ll also collect the payment for the affidavit of support. Their role is quite extensive in the CR1 process and that’s why it takes so much longer with the CR1 visa. It is a multi-part process and unfortunately, now those processing times are taking even longer than they used to in the past.
While the CR1 is generally more complicated and takes longer, it can be a good idea, depending on your situation, because it does directly get you a green card. A fiancé visa can get you in the United States for the purpose of adjusting status, but then you have to adjust status and pay another filing fee and then an additional few months of processing to get you a green card. With the CR1 when you enter, you already have your temporary 551 which is in your passport, and then within a few weeks of arriving, your green card will arrive by priority mail and then you’re done. So it typically takes longer, including a little more paperwork upfront, but in the long run, the CR1, while it might look disadvantageous compared to the K1, is generally a quicker path to a green card.