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The IR-2 Visa, Explained

Understanding the IR2 visa for children of U.S. citizens

Green Card (Child)

What is the IR-2 Visa?

The IR-2 visa allows the child of a U.S. citizen living outside the United States to lawfully enter and live in the country.

Is the IR-2 right for me?

If you are a U.S. citizen and have a child outside the United States who is not a green card holder or a U.S. citizen, then they may be eligible to use the IR-2 visa as long as they are under the age of 21 and unmarried.

The IR-2 visa is also available if you are adopting a child outside the United States. Visas are issued at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign country where a child resides. Since a child being adopted will usually be brought to live in the United States, your child will need an immigrant visa.

This guide will explain the process for obtaining an IR2 visa for your child.

Want answers on cost, wait time, and required documents? Boundless is your child visa partner from start to finish

IR-2 Visa Timeline

The total processing time for an IR-2 child visa is anywhere from 17-24 months.

The best way to ensure your application doesn’t get delayed is to file all your paperwork correctly the first time around. With Boundless, our team will help you steer clear of common mistakes and make sure your forms and documents are ready for attorney review. We can also help you include your children on your green card application for just $450 per child. Learn more about what Boundless can do to help.

USCIS Fees Increase


The cost to file an IR-2 visa application could increase significantly in the coming months.

In January 2023, USCIS announced plans to increase the filing fees for most visa categories, including family-based green cards like the IR-2 visa. The new costs are not yet in effect, but Boundless is tracking the proposal closely. Be sure to check out our USCIS fees guide to see a full breakdown of the costs you can expect to pay and stay up to date on any government changes.

IR-2 Visa Cost

The government filing fees for applying for an IR-2 child visa is $860. Note, this does not include the cost of the medical examination, which varies from roughly $200 to $500. We’ll go over the cost breakdown in the sections below.

Not sure what costs to expect? Boundless’ USCIS fee calculator can help determine the exact government fees for your IR-2 application. We also help you pay your costs in installments, so you can get started now and pay later. Get started today!

IR-2 Visa Eligibility

The requirements for an IR-2 visa are:

  • The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen
  • The sponsor must have had legal custody of the child abroad for at least two years
  • If the child is adopted, the adoption must have been finalized before the child’s 16th birthday
  • The sponsor must have lived with the child for two years before applying for the visa (in the case of adoption, this isn’t always possible. Learn more about your options here)
  • The child must be under age 21
  • The child must be unmarried
  • For stepchildren to qualify, the child’s birth parent and stepparent must have been married before the child turned 18

Do you have confidential questions about your eligibility for an IR2 visa? Answer our 5-minute questionnaire to get started.

The IR-2 Visa Process

The IR2 visa is part of the IR category (which stands for “Immediate Relative”), which has no yearly caps, meaning there is no wait until a green card becomes available.

Step 1: Establishing the Parent/Child Relationship

The first step to bringing a child to the United States is to file Form I-130 (officially called the “Petition for an Alien Relative”) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The main purpose of Form I-130 is to establish that a valid parent/child relationship exists.

A complete I-130 filing package includes:

  • Government filing fee of $675
  • Proof that the sponsoring parent is a U.S. citizen (copy of the sponsor’s birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or a valid U.S. passport)
  • Proof that a legally valid parent/child relationship exists (for example, a copy of the child’s birth certificate or adoption papers)

When the I-130 filing package is ready, it must be mailed to the appropriate USCIS address. Within about two week, USCIS will send the sponsoring parent a receipt notice in the mail.

If USCIS needs more evidence or information to process the application they will send the sponsoring parent a Request for Evidence (RFE) within 2–3 months.

Step 2: Apply for the Green Card (Form DS-260)

Once Form -130 is approved, the parent will be required to file Form DS-260 (immigrant visa application) with the National Visa Center (NVC), which is run by the State Department. The NVC gathers the required forms and supporting documents and decides whether the child is ready for an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad (known as “consular processing”).

A complete NVC filing package includes:

  • Government filing fee of $325 for the State Department processing fee
  • Form DS-260 (green card application filed online)
  • Proof of nationality of the child seeking a green card (copy of birth certificate and passport photo page)
  • Proof of the sponsoring parent’s ability to financially support the spouse seeking a green card (including Form I-864, or “Affidavit of Support,” and evidence such as tax returns and pay stubs)

The NVC then forwards the application package to a U.S. Embassy or consulate in the home country of the child seeking a green card.

The embassy and consulate will then schedule an interview for you and your child. Prior to the interview, your child will need to have a medical examination. If the interview is successful, the visa will be granted and your child will be able to immigrate to the United States.

If your child enters the United States on the IR-2 visa when they are under 18 years old, they will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship if they reside in the United States with their parents. If they enter while over 18 years old, they become permanent residents and receive a green card.

IR-2 Visa Interview

Your child will be required to attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the city or country they live in. Your child will be asked questions about their relationship to you, in order to verify that their visa application is genuine. They will need to bring:

  • Their USCIS appointment letter
  • An unexpired passport valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States
  • Two identical color photograph(s)
  • English translations of documents requiring translation that were not sent to NVC
  • Supporting documents — original or certified copies of all civil documents the parent uploaded into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC)

Finally, if the visa application fees were collected by NVC, the sponsor does not need to pay again. However, if the sponsor or any family member did not pay all the necessary fees, they will be asked to pay any unpaid fees at the U.S. embassy or consulate.

IR2 Visa FAQs

The IR2 visa can be used for all children of U.S. citizen parents, and the requirements remain the same. The child must be unmarried and under 21 years old.

Maybe. There is recourse through the Child Status Protection Act for children that turned 21 while waiting for their case’s adjudication.

U.S. citizens can apply for an IR-2 visa for their stepchild/stepchildren much the same as they can for a biological child. The caveat is that the child’s birth parent and stepparent must have been married before the child turned 18. The stepparent does not need to formally adopt the stepchild in order to apply.

If the stepchild is under 21 and unmarried, they qualify as an “immediate relative” of their American citizen stepparent. This means they can apply for an IR2 visa without waiting for a green card to become available.

If the stepchild is married or over 21, they don’t qualify as an immediate relative, and will have to wait for a visa to become available. This process usually takes a number of years.

Yes, depending on the country you are adopting from. See the USCIS guide on adopting a child from abroad.

The IR-2 visa is only available to U.S. citizens.

Not sure if you qualify for an IR2 visa? Answer our 5-minute questionnaire to get started.

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