The U.S immigrant visas have various categories within them. One of them is the Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (IR visas). The IR visa category favors the immediate relatives or family of U.S citizens who live outside of the U.S. and are the following:
- IR-1 visa for the spouse of a U.S citizen
- IR-2 visa for the unmarried children under 21 years old of a U.S citizen
- IR-3 visa for children adopted abroad by a U.S citizen
- IR-4 visa for children to be adopted within the U.S by a U.S citizen
- IR-5 visa for parents of a U.S citizen who is at least 21 years old.
As can be seen, immediate relatives are only spouses, biological or adopted children, and parents. Grandparents, uncles, or aunts do not qualify as immediate relatives and therefore cannot get these visas.
This article will go through the IR-2 visa, what it is, its requirements, application process, and other relevant details.
What Is the IR-2 Visa?
The IR-2 visa is given to unmarried children under 21 years old of U.S citizen. The child must be unmarried and under 21 years old to get this type of visa, but it can also be given if the child is under the Child Status Protection Act and is treated as if he or she were under 21 years old.
The advantages of getting an IR-2 visa for the child is that he or she can live in the U.S as well as attend school and continue studies. Ultimately, the child has a Green Card and is able to work without the need of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in the future.
The benefit of the IR-2 visa and all the Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas in general as compared to the Family Preference Immigrant Visas is that they are not limited in number. So if the applicants meet the conditions and requirements of the visa, they are given the IR-2 visa. There is no annual cap on the number of IR-2 visas issued, which makes it easier and much faster to obtain than for example the F-2B visa.
What Are the Requirements For the IR-2 Visa?
The requirements for the IR-2 visa are not as extensive as some other types of visa. The child of the U.S citizen must be:
- Under 21 years old
- Living in a foreign country
- Has been living with adoptive U.S citizen parents for at least 2 years
Besides the requirements for the child who will be applying for the IR-2 visa, the U.S citizen who will be the parent must fulfill these criteria:
- Must consent to adopting an unmarried child under 21 years old from a foreign country
- Must be a U.S citizen
- Must have adopted the child from a foreign country and lived with them for 2 years
If all of these conditions are met, then the U.S citizen and the child from a foreign country can start the application procedure for the IR-2 visa.
How to Apply For the IR-2 Visa?
The application process for the IR-2 visa follows similar patterns to other types of family based visas. It is divided in two parts:
- The U.S citizen petitions for the child to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- When the petition is approved, the child must apply to a U.S Embassy or Consulate in their home country
This shows that the application procedure must start within the U.S, with the U.S citizen petitioning to the authorities. The petition must be approved, otherwise, the child cannot begin applying to the U.S Embassy for their visa.
Filing the Petition
The petition can be done by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives. This petition must be filled by the U.S citizen in all the necessary sections and then submitted to USCIS. There is also a fee which the U.S citizen must pay in order to process the petition.
The petition will then go through the Department of Homeland Security and processed within a few months. The U.S citizen will be notified about the status when the processing is complete. If the petition is denied, USCIS will let you know what the reasons were for the denial. If the petition is approved, it will then go to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will then be your main contact for the IR-2 visa.
The NVC will send a package with information and instructions to the applicant in the foreign country. The package will also include the case number and invoice ID number which will be used to start the application from the U.S Embassy or Consulate in the foreign country.
Applying for the IR-2 visa
Since the Immediate Relative Visas do not have a cap on the number issued each year, applicants do not need to wait for their priority dates to become current. Immediately after the petition is approved by USCIS, the applicant in the foreign country can begin their application. This is done at a U.S Embassy or Consulate. Since the child is a minor, they may have someone help them with their application. The U.S citizen does not have many duties in this part of the application.
File Form DS-260
Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application is the form which all applicants for immigrant visas must submit. The application can be accessed by using the NVC case number which links it to your case and the approved petition. The IR-2 visa applicant or someone helping them must fill out all the necessary sections, which will have questions related to the applicant’s information, background, and purpose of immigrating to the U.S. When you submit the DS-260 form, you will get a confirmation page and number which you must attach to your supporting documents.
Complete medical examination and vaccination
The U.S has certain medical and vaccination requirements which its citizens and immigrants must fulfill. Anyone who wants to immigrate to the U.S must get the necessary medical check-ups and vaccines. The NVC package which the applicant received after the approval of the petition will specify what medical procedures the applicant must complete and the vaccines they need to get. The documents and the check-ups must be completed by a licensed doctor who will sign them. These documents will be attached to your supporting file which you will then send to the NVC.
Compile documents file
Besides the application form, you must also attach various supporting documents to give NVC a better reason as to why you should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S with an IR-2 visa. The supporting documents must be sent to the NVC and the file must contain the following:
- Your valid passport for more than 6 months after your planned entry into the U.S
- A signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support from the U.S petitioner (applicant’s parent)
- Form DS-260 confirmation page
- Medical examination and vaccination documents
- Two photographs per individual according to the Photo Requirements
- Court and criminal records and/or police certificate
- If you served in the military, you must bring your military records
Every immigrant applicant for the U.S must attend an interview at the U.S Embassy or Consulate where they are applying. The NVC will first make sure that you have submitted all the necessary documents and then will schedule the interview.
Since in this case, the applicant is a child, they may be accompanied by a caretaker. The child will be asked questions about who they are and the officials will determine whether the child can get the IR-2 visa.
Receive NVC packet and travel to the U.S.
If the child’s IR-2 visa is approved, they can travel to the U.S freely. The visa will be stamped on their passport and the Embassy will give them a package which the child must bring to the U.S when they first enter the country. This package must not be opened under any circumstances. Only the U.S immigrant officials at any U.S point of entry are allowed to open it and decide whether the applicant is allowed to enter the country or not.
What Are the Fees to Pay For the IR-2 Visa?
There are various fees that the petitioner and the applicant must pay throughout the application process for the IR-2 visa. The amounts vary and are set by USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security and the individual U.S Embassy or Consulate where you are applying. The main categories of fees that must be paid are as follows:
- Form I-130 filing fee
- Processing fee for the Form DS-260
- Medical examination and vaccination fees
- Fees to get and translate all the supporting documents
- USCIS Immigrant Fee which you must pay after you receive your visa and before you travel to the U.S. USCIS will not issue you a Green Card without you paying this fee.
How Long is the IR-2 Visa Processing Time?
Since the IR-2 visa does not have annual caps, the processing times are also much shorter than the Family Preference Visas. In total, the processing time can take from 3 to 12 months, depending on the individual circumstances.
Do I Become a U.S Citizen Once I Get the IR-2 Visa?
Children who enter the U.S with an IR-2 visa have the opportunity to become U.S citizens immediately. If the child who has an IR-2 visa is under 18 years old, then they will get U.S citizenship immediately when they enter the U.S and state that they will live in the U.S with their parents.
Those who are over 18 years old become permanent residents and receive their IR-2 Green Cards, and can apply for citizenship when they are eligible.