The IR-2 Visa is a family-based immigration visa allowing U.S. citizens to bring their unmarried children to the United States as immigrants.
It creates a path for the child to get a green card or a Certificate of Citizenship.
An IR-2 visa is considered an immediate relative visa for unmarried children under 21 years old.
An IR-2 visa allows your child to live in the U.S. and attend school.
With a green card, your child can also work without having to file for an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”).
Another benefit of the IR-2 is that it does not have an annual cap.
In this article, we will discuss the process of applying for an IR-2 visa.
We provide step-by-step instructions on the application process, eligibility requirements, necessary forms, supporting documents, costs, processing times, and other important information related to the IR-2 visa.
What is an IR-2 Visa?
The IR-2 Visa falls under the Immediate Relative (“IR”) Visa category and is intended to promote family unification.
It allows U.S. citizens to bring their immediate family members from other countries to the United States.
However, not all immediate relatives are eligible for the IR-2 visa, as specific criteria must be met.
The government understands that U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (“LPR”) need to reunite with family members.
To facilitate family unification, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) issues two types of visas:
- Immediate Family
- Family Preference.
If you have an unmarried child under 21 residing in a different country and want to bring them to the U.S., you can apply for an IR-2 Visa.
Review the following information to better understand the eligibility criteria and limitations of this type of visa.
Age Limitations for Sponsoring Your Children
According to the USCIS, only unmarried children who have not attained the age of 21 can apply for an IR-2 Visa.
If a child is married or over 21, they are ineligible for an IR-2 visa.
Other eligibility requirements for this category of visas are:
- The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen.
- The child must be unmarried.
- Where the child is adopted, the adoption must have taken place before the child’s 16 birthday.
- For stepchildren to qualify, the child’s stepparent and birth parent must have married before the child’s 18th birthday.
Children of Permanent Residents vs. Children of U.S. Citizens
There are two categories of family-based immigration visas: Immediate Relative and Family Preference.
- Immediate Relative: This type of family-based visa is reserved for spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of U.S. residents. There is no limit to the number of immigrants that a U.S. citizen can sponsor annually.
- Family Preference: This category is reserved for specific family relationships with U.S. citizens (children over 21, married children and siblings of U.S. citizens) and some specific relationships with permanent residents (spouses, children of green card holders). The number of immigrants sponsored under this category is limited each year.
Both U.S. citizens and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents can file an immigration visa petition for their unmarried children, provided that these children are under 21 years old.
The only difference is the form or category of the visa:
- A child of a U.S. citizen requires an Immediate Relative Visa (IR-2)
- A child of a U.S. LPR requires a Family Preference Visa. If you are a permanent resident, you will need to file an I-130 petition, which is the first step in sponsoring your child for an IR-2 visa. This petition establishes your relationship with your child and shows that you are sponsoring them for immigration.
- If you are a U.S. citizen and want to sponsor your fiancé(e)s unmarried child under 21, you will also need to include the child(ren) on Form I-129F, which is the petition for an alien fiancé(e). Once the I-129F is approved, your fiancé(e)s child will need to attend a consular interview and obtain a K-2 visa before they can enter the U.S.
Regardless of whether you are a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, your child will need to undergo a medical examination and in some cases obtain a police clearance certificate before they can be approved for an IR-2 visa.
What Immigration Forms Do I Need to File to Sponsor My Children?
The process begins with filing an immigration petition and Form I-130 with the USCIS. This is done by the sponsoring parent on behalf of their child.
Form I-130: Establishing Parent-Child Relationship
Form I-130 is also known as the Petition for an Alien Relative and it is filed with the USCIS. The primary purpose of Form I-130 is to help establish a valid parent-child relationship.
A complete Form I-130 filing package must include the following:
- Proof that the sponsor is a U.S. citizen (a copy of a naturalization certificate, birth certificate, or a valid U.S passport)
- Proof that there exists a legally valid parent-child relationship (child’s birth certificate or copies of adoption papers)
- A government filing fee of $535
You must send a complete I-130 filling package to USCIS or file Form I-130 online. USCIS will mail a receipt notice to show that it received your package. If USCIS requires more information or evidence to process the application, it will send the sponsor a Request for Evidence (“RFE”).
Form DS-260: Application for Immigrant Visa
If USCIS finds you and your child eligible, it will grant your I-130 petition. USCIS will forward the approved I-130 petition to the National Visa Center (NVC). You will receive an email and/or notice by mail with NVC ID number and invoice number (also known as a “Welcome Letter”). You will then have to file Form DS-260 online with the National Visa Center (“NVC”). The NVC’s role is to gather all the forms and supporting documents and decide whether the child is ready for an interview at a United States consulate or embassy. This stage is known as “Consular Processing.”
A complete NVC filing package includes the following:
- Form DS-260 (the green card application form filed online)
- Proof of nationality of the child (copy of the birth certificate and passport photo)
- Form I-864, proving the sponsor’s ability to financially support the child
- A government filing fee of $445 (DS-260 $325 fee+ Affidavit of Support $120 fee)
Once the NVC has processed the application package, it will forward it to the U.S. consulate or embassy in the child’s home country.
What Documents Do I Need to Submit For an IR-2 Application?
You will have to submit the following documents along with your IR-2 application:
- The child’s passport, with a validity of at least six months
- Child’s “long-form” birth certificate that lists both parents
- Form DS-260 confirmation page
- A fully completed and signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
- Form I-864 supporting documents (sponsor’s most recent tax return, W-2 form, etc.)
- The child’s medical examination report
- Any court records and criminal record certificate (if applicable)
- Two recent photos of your child
- Military record (if applicable)
What Happens After Submitting the IR-2 Application?
Once the immigration petition and all the forms have been filed, USCIS forwards the application to the National Visa Center (NVC).
The NVC’s job is to process and review your application.
The NVC may request additional evidence in the process.
After the NVC has processed your IR-2 application, they will forward it to the U.S. embassy or consulate of the foreign country where your child resides.
The embassy or consulate will schedule a visa interview with you and your child.
Your child is expected to have a medical examination with a certified doctor before the scheduled interview.
You can find the checklist of required documents your child needs to bring to the interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate here. Choose your embassy location and follow the instructions.
During the interview, you will be asked questions about your relationship, to confirm that all the information in the visa application is true and correct.
Child will need to present the following documents during this interview:
- The child’s unexpired passport, valid for at least six months beyond the intended entry date into the U.S.
- The U.S. Embassy or consulate interview appointment letter
- Two-identical U.S. visa-style color photographs of the child
- Supporting documents, including original and certified copies of civil documents uploaded to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CESC)
- English translations of any documents in a language that is not English
- Completed medical examination
If your child pass the interview, U.S. Department of State will issue your child the relevant visa, and your child can then immigrate to the U.S.
How Much Does It Cost to Sponsor My Children for IR-2 Visa?
There are multiple fees that the applicants must pay throughout the IR-2 Visa application process:
- A $535 filing fee for Form I-130.
- A $325 processing fee for Form DS-260.
- A $220 USCIS Immigration Fee. This is only paid after your child has received a visa, just before traveling to the U.S. USCIS will not issue a Green Card before the payment of this fee.
- Medical examination fee as set by the doctor.
- Fees (where applicable) for obtaining supporting documents such as criminal records.
How Long Does It Take to Obtain an IR-2 Visa?
The entire processing time for an IR-2 Visa may range from 12 months to 20 months.
This timeframe varies depending on the specific circumstances of your application and the consulate office that processes your application.
Since the IR-2 visa does not have an annual cap, the processing times are much shorter than the Family Preference Visas.
It is always a good idea to check the USCIS website for the most current information on processing times.
Is My Child Eligible for U.S. Citizenship?
Children who enter the U.S. with an IR-2 visa are normally admitted as either U.S. citizens or permanent residents depending on the child’s age.
Those aged 18 or older do not acquire citizenship but rather Lawful Permanent Residency, which allows them to live and work in the U.S.
USCIS issues a permanent resident card, known as a green card.
After entering and residing in the U.S., they can apply for citizenship once they are eligible.
Generally, a permanent resident child aged 18 or older will need to continuously reside in the U.S. for 4 years and 9 months before becoming eligible to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
The child will need to meet a number of U.S. citizenship requirements (continuous residence, “good moral character” that includes filing federal tax returns and paying taxes, registering with the Selective Service System).
Other Types of Immediate Relative Visas
Immediate Relative (“IR”) visas are issued to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who live outside the United States. Examples of IR visas include:
- IR-1 Visas, issued to the spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- IR-2 Visas, issued to unmarried under 21 years old children of U.S citizens.
- IR-3 Visas, issued to children adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen.
- IR-4 Visas, issued to children to be adopted in the U.S. by U.S. citizens.
- IR-5 Visas, issued to parents of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.
As shown above, the following individuals are considered immediate relatives for IR-type visas: spouses, adopted or biological children, and parents.
All other relatives do not qualify as immediate relatives and therefore cannot pursue any of these visas.
Understanding the U.S. citizenship eligibility for IR-2 visa holders is essential for parents sponsoring their unmarried children to immigrate to the United States.
If you have any doubts or questions about the process, reach out to bwea.com for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This section provides answers to common questions related to IR-2 visas:
My child is currently 21 years old. Can I still use this Visa Type?
Typically, an IR-2 is used for unmarried children under the age of 21. However, there is a recourse through the Child Status Protection Act (“CSPA”) for children who turned 21 while waiting for their case to be adjudicated. Learn more about the CSPA by visiting the USCIS website.
How Do I Petition for a Stepchild?
Provided that the sponsoring parent is a U.S. citizen, they can use an IR-2 Visa for their stepchild like a biological child. However, the child’s biological parent and the stepparent must have married before the child’s 18th birthday.
The stepparent does not have to adopt the stepchild to apply for an IR-2. Provided the stepchild is under 21 years old and unmarried, they are eligible as an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen stepparent. This means that they can apply for an IR-2 visa. If the stepchild is over the age of 21 years old or married, they do not qualify.
I am adopting a child outside the U.S. but cannot live with them for two years. Are there other alternative visas?
Yes. There are alternative options depending on the country you are adopting from. Learn more about international adoptions by visiting the USCIS website.
I am a green card holder. Can I apply for an IR-2 for my children?
No. The IR-2 visa category is only available to U.S. citizens.