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What is the IR-2 immigrant visa for children of U.S. citizens?

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Key Takeaways

There are visas available for foreign-born children of U.S. citizens to immigrate to the United States. The IR-2 visa is an immigrant visa available only to unmarried children of U.S. citizens. This guide explains the IR-2 visa in detail. It defines who can apply for the visa, the IR-2 visa application process, the costs involved, as well as how long it takes to process IR-2 visa applications.

Table of Contents

What is an IR-2 visa?

The IR-2 visa falls in the category of immediate relative visas, which are for certain family members of U.S. citizens. For example, in the immediate relative (IR) visa category, the IR-1 visa is for spouses, and the IR-2 visa is for unmarried children under 21 years of age. The IR-2 visa allows children of U.S. citizens who live outside the United States to enter and live in the United States. The IR-2 visa allows these children to have green cards and work in the United States without employment authorization documents (EAD).

Who is eligible for an IR-2 visa?

If you are a U.S. citizen with a child outside of the United States who is not a green card holder or U.S. citizen, your child may fall under the eligibility for IR-2. These are the eligibility requirements: 

  • You, the sponsor, are a U.S. citizen
  • You, the sponsor, must have had legal custody of the child living in a foreign country for at least two years 
  • You, the sponsor, must have lived with the child for two years before applying for the visa 
  • Your child must be under age 21 
  • Your child must be unmarried 
  • If your child is adopted, you must have finalized the adoption before your child turns 16

If you adopt a child outside of the United States, the IR-2 visa is also available to your adopted child. A U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign country where the child lives would issue the visa. Your child will need an immigrant visa if you plan to bring them to live in the United States.

What is the IR-2 visa application process?

The IR-2 visa is part of the Immediate Relative (IR) visa category. There is no annual cap for the IR type of visa, so there are no priority dates, and you won’t have to wait for a green card to become available. 

The first step is to file Form I-130, officially named “Petition for Alien Relative.” After the U.S. citizen parent or parents file this form, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will process it. 

When USCIS grants your I-130 petition, you will need to file Form DS-260, or “Immigrant Visa Electronic Application” next. You need to submit evidence of your parent-child relationship or adoption through this form. You will also need to provide supporting documents that prove you have lived continuously with your minor child for at least two years and outside of the United States. You will have to submit these documents along with your IR-2 application: 

The National Visa Center (NVC) will process and review your Form DS-260. They may ask you for additional evidence. 

After the NVC processes your application, they will send it to the U.S. consulate or embassy of the foreign country where your child lives. The embassy or consulate will schedule a visa interview for you and your child. Before your interview, your child needs to have a medical examination with a certified doctor. 

During the interview, the consular officer will ask your child questions about their relationship with you to ensure your visa application is authentic. You will need to bring these required documents to your interview: 

  • The USCIS interview appointment letter
  • Your child’s unexpired passport, valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States 
  • Two identical color photographs of your child 
  • English translations of documents requiring translation that you did not already send to the NVC  
  • Supporting documents, including all original or certified copies of civil documents you uploaded to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) 

If NVC has already collected your visa application fees, you don't need to pay again. However, if you have not paid all necessary fees, you will pay any unpaid fees at the embassy or consulate. 

If you and your child pass the interview, USCIS will grant your child a visa, and your child can immigrate to the United States.

How much does it cost to get the IR-2 visa?

There are multiple fees involved with this process. These are the main categories: 

  • Form I-130 filing fee of $535
  • Form DS-260 processing fee of $325
  • Medical examination and vaccination fees, as set by doctor
  • Fees to get and translate (if applicable) all your supporting documents 
  • USCIS Immigrant Fee of $220, which you must pay after your child receives their visa and before traveling to the United States. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not issue your child a green card if you do not pay this fee.

How long does it take to process IR-2 visas?

The processing time for the entire IR-2 green card application process generally takes between three to twelve months. It will vary depending on the USCIS office or U.S. consulate processing your application, and your specific circumstances. However, this type of visa does not have annual caps. Therefore, the processing times should be much shorter than other visas, such as family preference immigrant visas.

What happens when your IR-2 visa application is approved?

Depending on your child's age, they may either become a U.S. citizen immediately or a lawful permanent resident (LPR). If your child enters the United States on an IR-2 visa before turning 18 years old, they will automatically become a citizen when they enter the U.S. state where they will live with their parents. If they enter while older than 18, they become lawful permanent residents (LPR). They will receive an IR-2 green card and can apply for citizenship once they are eligible. 


Getting an IR-2 immigrant visa for your child can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your child’s green card case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!

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