The U.S immigrant visas have various categories within them. One of them is the Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas. This group of visas favors the immediate relatives or family of U.S citizens who live outside of the U.S. They are denoted by the letters IR, 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-5 visa, what it is, its requirements, application process, and other relevant details.
What is the IR-5 visa?
There are many people who have obtained U.S citizenship due to their status in the country. Because of that, they may want to also bring their immediate family relatives to accompany them. Many U.S citizens want to bring their parents from the foreign country that they used to live in to the U.S. This can be done by the parents immigrating to the U.S with an IR-5 visa.
The IR-5 visa allows parents of U.S citizens who are at least 21 years old to go to the U.S and live there, permanently immigrating. This visa gives them the opportunity to live and work in the U.S and stay connected with their children as a family in one country. When they receive the IR-5 visa, the parents can then work legally in the U.S without needing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
The benefit of the IR-5 visa is that because it is an immediate family visa, it does not have an annual cap or limit. This means that any applicant who fulfills the criteria and has an approved application can get the visa without having to wait for their priority dates to become current.
What are the requirements for the IR-5 visa?
To be eligible for the IR-5 visa, there are requirements which both the U.S citizen and the parent of the U.S citizen must fulfill. These requirements are as follows:
- The U.S citizen must be at least 21 years old
- The U.S citizen must be financially stable to support their parent until they start working
- The U.S citizen must be living in the U.S and have a valid U.S address
- The parent must be from a foreign country
- The U.S citizen and their parent must prove their relationship through a valid birth certificate
If all of these conditions are met, then the parent is eligible to apply for the IR-5 visa so that they can immigrate to the U.S and be together with their child.
How to apply for the IR-5 visa?
The process to apply for the IR-5 visa includes both the U.S citizen and their parent who have to submit documents and forms in order to get approved. The application process has two parts:
- The U.S citizen petitions for the parent to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- When the petition is approved, the parent must apply to a U.S Embassy or Consulate in their home country
Because of this procedure, the parent cannot actually apply for the visa before the child who is a U.S citizen gets the petition approved.
Filing the petition for the parent
The U.S citizen or the child of the applicant must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives to USCIS. The petition must be filled and any necessary documents must be attached in order for it to be complete. Additionally, for the petition to be processed, a filing fee must also be paid by the U.S citizen.
The petition is processed by the Department of Homeland Security and takes a few months. After the processing, the U.S citizen is notified by USCIS whether it has been approved or denied. If the petition is denied, USCIS will let you know of the reasons and you can then reapply. If the petition is approved, it will continue to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will then take over the application process and you will only contact them for any inquiries.
The NVC reviews the petition and then sends the parent or applicant in the foreign country a package with information and instructions. This package contains the applicant’s case number and invoice ID number. Each of these numbers is different for applicants so that they can be identified when the times comes to apply for the IR-5 visa.
Applying for the IR-5 visa
Since the IR-5 visa does not have an annual cap or priority dates, the parent can start the application immediately after the petition is approved. The application for the visa is done at the U.S Embassy or Consulate where the applicant lives. In this stage, the U.S citizen will not have many duties and the decision will now be up to the officials who review the case in the U.S Embassy.
File Form DS-260
Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application is the standard form for all U.S immigrant visas. The parent or applicant will put in their case number and will be redirected to the appropriate sections. They must fill out all the sections with the correct information which are related to the applicant’s background and other details. At the end, they will get a confirmation page and number which they will attach to the supporting documents.
Complete medical examination and vaccination
The U.S has requirements regarding a person’s medical history and the vaccination that they must receive in order to live in the country. In the NVC package, the applicant will have instructions about what tests they must conduct and what vaccines they must take. The applicant must then go to a licensed doctor to complete the requirements and have the doctor sign the documents which prove that those requirements have been fulfilled. These documents will then be attached to the supporting ones to send to the NVC.
Compile supporting document file
In order to strengthen the application, the parent must also attach some supporting documents which will be sent to the NVC. These documents serve to prove that the parent fulfills all the requirements and is eligible to move to the U.S with an IR-5 visa. 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 child)
- Form DS-260 confirmation page
- Medical examination and vaccination documents
- Valid birth certificate proving the relationship of the U.S citizen and the applicant
- 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
Attend the visa interview
After the documents have been sent, the NVC will schedule an interview for the applicant at the U.S Embassy where they are applying. The interview will be conducted by a U.S Embassy official who will ask questions regarding the applicant’s background and their reasons for wanting to move to the U.S. It is important to answer all questions correctly and honestly.
Receive NVC packet and travel to the U.S.
The U.S Embassy will notify the applicant whether their visa has been approved after the interview. If the applicant gets the IR-5 visa, the Embassy will give them a package which they must bring when they travel to the U.S. It is important to not open the package. The only people who will open it are the U.S immigrant officials at the point of entry in the U.S in order to decide whether the applicant must be allowed to enter the country or not.
What are the IR-5 visa fees that must be paid?
There are various fees that the petitioner and the applicant must pay throughout the application process for the IR-5 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-5 visa processing time?
The visas for immediate relatives have different processing times. How long it takes to get the IR-5 visa depends on the length of time for processing of Form I-130 and other documents. In general though, it will take from 6 months up to 1 year for the applicant or parent to receive the IR-5 visa and be allowed to unite with their child in the U.S who is a citizen.