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.

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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

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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.

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”).

After Form I-130 has been filed by the U.S. citizen parent or parents, it is processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When the petition is granted, the parent will be required to fill out the Form DS-260 (immigrant visa application) and submit evidence of the parent-child relationship or the adoption, as well as proof of continuous residency with them for two years. Importantly, this time period has to have been spent outside of the United States.

Once Form DS-260 is submitted, it is sent along with the evidence to the National Visa Center (NVC), which processes and reviews the visa application. The NVC may ask for additional evidence.

After the NVC processes the application, it will be sent to the U.S. embassy or consulate of the foreign country where your child resides for consular processing. 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.

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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.

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Common questions

Is the IR-2 visa only intended for adopted children?

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.

My children are all aged 21 or older. Can I still use this visa type?

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

I am adopting a child outside the United States, but cannot live with them for two years. Are there other visas?

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

I am a green card holder — can I use this visa for my children?

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

Not sure if you qualify for an IR2 visa? You can check your eligibility with RapidVisa, a Boundless company. When you’re ready to apply, RapidVisa can guide you through every milestone of the process, starting with your green card application all the way to the finish line.