The IR-5 Visa, Explained


Understanding the IR-5 visa for parents of U.S. citizens


Green Card (Parent)


What is the IR-5 visa?

The IR-5 visa allows the parent or parents of a U.S. citizen to lawfully live and work in the United States.

Is the IR-5 right for me?

If you are a U.S citizen and have a parent or parents that are not, you might be looking to bring them over to live with you in the United States. This move could be for many reasons including greater proximity to family, better healthcare, or an increased standard of living.

The IR-5 parent visa allows U.S. citizens to bring foreign-born parents to the United States as permanent residents. However, this visa will have to be granted abroad and issued at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign country where the parent resides. You must also be at least age 21 to sponsor the IR-5 visa for a parent.

In this guide you’ll learn about the steps to getting an IR-5 visa as well as special requirements and common questions:

  1. IR-5 visa eligibility
  2. Establish the parent-child relationship (Form I-130)
  3. Apply for the green card (Form I-485 or DS-260)
  4. Attend the green card interview and wait for approval
  5. Special Requirements
  6. Common Questions

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IR-5 Visa Eligibility


Eligibility for an IR-5 visa depends on the following factors:

  • The U.S. citizen sponsor must be age 21 or older.
  • The sponsor must have the financial means to support the parent until they start working.
  • The sponsor must live in the United States and have a U.S. address.
  • The sponsor must include a copy of their birth certificate to prove the relationship between the sponsor and parent.

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Step 1


Establishing the parent-child relationship

All IR (“Immediate Relative”) visa categories have no yearly caps, meaning there is no wait until a green card becomes available.

The first step to becoming a U.S. permanent resident is for the sponsor to file Form I-130 (officially called the “Petition for an Alien Relative”) to establish the parent-child relationship.

The process is a little different depending on where the parent lives. If they are filing from outside the United States, their application will go through consular processing, which means it will be handled by their local embassy or consulate. If they are filing from within the United States, they will go through a process known as adjustment of status.

The parent can either go through this process if they are living abroad, known as “consular processing” or if they are currently in the United States, known as “adjustment of status.”


Step 2


Establishing the parent’s eligibility for a green card

The U.S. government follows two different processes to determine a parent’s eligibility for green card, depending on where the parent currently lives:

If the parent is applying from outside the United States

After Form I-130 has been filed by the sponsoring child, it is processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When the petition is granted, the sponsor will be required to fill out Form DS-260 (immigrant visa application) and submit proof that they are the parent.

Once the DS-260 form is submitted, it is sent along with supporting evidence to the National Visa Center (NVC), which processes and reviews the visa application. The NVC may request additional evidence from the parent.

After the NVC processes the application, it will be sent to the embassy or consulate of the country where your parent resides.


If the parent is applying from within the United States

To apply using adjustment of status, the parent seeking a green card must have entered the United States on a valid visa or the Visa Waiver Program.

After the sponsoring child files Form I-130 and USCIS grants their petition, the parent will submit Form I-485 (officially called the “Application for Adjustment of Status”).

After receiving Form I-485, USCIS will mail a date, time, and location for the parent to have their fingerprints taken and eye scanned (known as a biometrics appointment).


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Step 3


Attending the green card interview and awaiting approval

The parent will be required to attend an interview at a U.S.consulate or embassy if going through consular processing, and may be required to attend an interview if using adjustment of status.

They will be required to attend an interview in the city or country they live in, and 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, if they applied using consular processing
  • Two identical color photograph(s)
  • English translations of documents requiring translation
  • Supporting documents — original or certified copies of all civil documents the parent uploaded into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC), if they applied using consular processing

The parent will then be asked questions about their relationship to the sponsoring child, in order to verify that their visa application is genuine. If the interview is successful, the visa will be granted, and the parent will be able to immigrate to the United States.

Once the parent is in the United States, USCIS will mail their green card to their U.S. address.


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Special Requirements


The IR-5 visa has different requirements for supporting evidence depending on the parent and the circumstances of the sponsor’s birth, that is, whether it occurred when the parents were married (“in wedlock”) or not married (“out of wedlock”).

If the mother is applying from outside the United States, the sponsoring child must submit:

  • A copy of their birth certificate showing their name and their mother’s name.
  • A copy of their Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if they were not born in the United States.

If the father is applying from outside the United States, the sponsoring child must submit:

  • A copy of their birth certificate showing their name and the names of both parents.
  • A copy of their Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if they were not born in the United States.
  • A copy of their parents’ civil marriage certificate.

If the father lives outside the United States and the sponsoring child was born out of wedlock and was not legitimated (legally recognized) by their father before their 18th birthday:

  • A copy of their birth certificate showing their name and their father’s name.
  • A copy of their Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if they were not born in the United States.
  • Evidence that an emotional or financial bond existed between the sponsoring child and their father before the child was married or reached age 21 (whichever came first).

If the father lives outside the United States and the sponsoring child was born out of wedlock and was legitimated by their father before their 18th birthday:

  • A copy of their birth certificate showing their name and their father’s name.
  • A copy of their Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if they were not born in the United States.
  • Evidence that the sponsoring child was legitimated before their 18th birthday through the marriage of their natural parents, the laws of their birth state or country, or the laws of their father’s birth state or country.

If the sponsoring child petitions to bring a stepparent to the United States, they must submit:

  • A copy of their birth certificate showing the names of their birth parents.
  • A copy of their Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if they were not born in the United States.
  • A copy of the civil marriage certificate of the birth parent to the stepparent showing that the marriage occurred before the sponsoring child’s 18th birthday.
  • A copy of any divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees to show that any previous marriage entered into by the sponsoring child’s natural or stepparent ended legally.

If the sponsoring child petitions to bring their adoptive parents to the United States, they must submit:

  • A copy of their birth certificate
  • A copy of their Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if they were not born in the United States.
  • A certified copy of the adoption certificate showing that the adoption took place before the sponsoring child’s 16th birthday.
  • A statement showing the dates and places the sponsoring child has lived together with their parents.

Not sure if you qualify for an IR-5 visa? You can check your eligibility with our IR-5 partner RapidVisa. 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.


Common questions


Will my parent be eligible for U.S. citizenship?

After five years of having a green card, the sponsoring child’s parent will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

I am a U.S. citizen under 21-years-old. Can I still sponsor my parents?

No. The sponsoring child needs to wait until after their 21st birthday to sponsor any parent.

Can I sponsor my brothers and sisters in the same petition as my parents?

No. An important thing to note is that if the sponsor’s parents have minor children abroad, they will not be able to be sponsored on the same petition. Instead, they will have to be petitioned for separately by the sponsor, as a U.S. citizen, or by the parents when they become green card holders.


Do you have confidential questions about your eligibility for an IR-2 visa? Our IR-2 visa partner RapidVisa can guide you through the entire green card process and answer any questions you may have.