- What is the IR2 Visa?
- Who is Eligible for the IR2 Visa?
- What is the Application Process for the Children’s Green Card?
- What Happens During the Petition Stage?
- IR2 Visa Application Process
- Medical Examination and Vaccinations
- Which Documents need to be included in the IR2 Visa Application?
- What is the Immigration Interview?
- How much does the IR2 Visa cost?
- How Long Does it Take for an IR2 Visa to be Processed?
What is the IR2 Visa?
The IR2 Visa, also known as the Children’s Green card, is a U.S. immediate relative family-based visa. This means that there is no annual cap or limits to visas issued unlike other visas (ex. Family Preference Immigrant Visas). If the visa applicant meets the conditions and requirements of the visa, then they can get an IR2 visa.
Under this visa, the unmarried child (who is under 21 years old) can live and continue their education in the U.S. with their parents. They will also have the benefit of permanent resident status which will allow them to stay in the U.S. and work without needing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Furthermore, if a child under the age of 18 years old enters the U.S. with an IR2 visa and lives in the U.S. with their parents, they have the opportunity to immediately gain U.S. citizenship. Those who are over 18 years old but under 21 years old when they receive their IR2 Visa will get permanent resident status (also known as a green card). They can then apply for U.S. citizenship as soon as they become eligible to apply.
Who is Eligible for the IR2 Visa?
Those wishing to apply for an IR2 visa must be the child of a U.S. citizen, unmarried, under 21 years old and living in a foreign country. A child is eligible for an IR2 visa if they are one of the following:
- A natural-born child to married parents (at least one of the parents must be a U.S. citizen)
- A Natural-born child to unmarried parents (if the father is the U.S. sponsor then he must undergo a paternity test to prove that he is the father)
- A step-child who was under the age of 18 years old when their parents were married
- An adopted child who was under the age of 18 years old at the time of adoption and has lived with their adoptive U.S. citizen parent for at least 2 years.
What is the Application Process for the Children’s Green Card?
The Children’s Green Card is a family-based visa and therefore follows the same application process as other family-based green cards. First, the U.S. sponsor will petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of their child. Once the petition is approved, the visa application process can begin. Generally, the entire visa application process is as follows:
- The U.S. citizen sponsor completes the IR2 petition form and sends it to the USCIS
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will then process the petition
- If the petition is approved, all the information regarding your petition will then be sent over to the National Visa Center (NVC) who will then take over the application process. They will send a packet of information to you along with instructions on what to do next
- The visa applicant will then fill in Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application). This is done online and can be completed by a parent if the applicant is a minor
- The child will then undergo a medical examination and receive the required vaccinations
- All required documents and supporting documents are assembled into a portfolio of evidence which will later be submitted
- The applicant will then attend an immigrant visa interview at their local U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- After the interview, the applicant will receive a decision on whether or not the visa application is approved or not
- If approved, the child will then travel to the United States with their parents
What Happens During the Petition Stage?
As with all family-based green cards, the visa application starts out first with the petition stage. In this stage, the U.S. citizen must complete a petition on behalf of the family member that they wish to sponsor. To do this, the U.S. sponsor must complete Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relatives) and submit it to USICS along with any fees associated with its filing.
The petition is then sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)where it is usually processed within a few months. If your petition is refused, you will then receive a letter stating why the petition was rejected. If the petition is approved, it is then transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC).
The NVC will then send out a packet of information with instructions on the next steps of the visa application process. In this packet, you will be given a case number and invoice ID number which you will need to start your application at your local U.S. Embassy or consulate (if you are abroad).
IR2 Visa Application Process
The application process starts as soon as the petition is approved and you receive your informational packet from the NVC. One of the first things that you will be asked to do is complete Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application) which will ask questions about the applicant’s background and reasons why they want to immigrate to the United States. This is a form that can be filled out online using your NVC case number. If the applicant is a minor, a parent can complete the form on their behalf.
After you have completed the DS-260 Form, a confirmation page and number will be shown. It is important that you print out this page and include it with your application package that will be sent to the NVC.
Medical Examination and Vaccinations
As part of the visa application process, individuals who wish to immigrate to the United States must complete a medical examination by a licensed doctor along with receiving required vaccinations. Details on what particular vaccinations that the applicant must get will be communicated in the informational packet sent out by the NVC.
To prove that the visa applicant has met this requirement, the applicant must include signed documents from a licensed medical professional detailing both the medical examination and the vaccinations that they have received. These documents will be included in your IR2 visa application package that will later be sent to the NVC.
Which Documents need to be included in the IR2 Visa Application?
As part of their IR2 application, the visa applicant will need to send a variety of documents to the NVC. Although the documents submitted in your portfolio of evidence will be different and unique to your application, all applications will need to include the following:
- A valid passport for more than six months after your planned entry to the U.S.
- Signed Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support from the U.S. petitioner/parent)
- A printout of the confirmation page of Form DS-260
- Signed documents showing medical examinations and vaccinations
- Any court or criminal records
- Two photographs in accordance with U.S. photo requirements for visas
It should be noted that if any documents which are not in English will need to be translated by an accredited translator. Depending on your case, you may need to submit additional documents to help strengthen your application. Consult with your immigration lawyer on what to include if you are unsure.
Once all the required documents have been assembled into a portfolio of evidence, send the bundle of documents to the NVC who will then take a look at the documents and determine if you have provided sufficient evidence to support your IR2 application. If the NVC is satisfied with the evidence provided, an immigration interview will then be scheduled at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
What is the Immigration Interview?
The final step of any immigrant visa application is the green card interview. This interview will take place at a local U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you are abroad or at a local USCIS office if you are in the United States. Since the IR2 visa is a children’s visa, the minor applicant will need to attend the interview with a parent or guardian.
In the interview, the immigration officer will ask the applicant and guardian questions based on the information provided in their visa application as well as other questions about their background and why they are immigrating to the United States.
If the immigration official is satisfied with the interview, your visa application will be approved. The minor’s passport will then be stamped with the IR2 visa and they will then be allowed to travel to the United States. In addition, you will be given a sealed packet which you must take with you and present to immigration control at a U.S. port-of-entry who will open it and use it to determine if you are allowed entry.
It is very important that you do not open this packet and also that you keep it on hand with you while you travel (Don’t pack it away in checked baggage) so that you can properly submit it to immigration.
How much does the IR2 Visa cost?
The overall cost for an IR2 visa will vary depending on where you are traveling from and what documents you will need to include in your application. However, the basic costs of an immigrant visa like this will include the following:
- Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relatives): $535
- Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application): $445
- Medical examination and vaccinations fees: costs will vary
- USCIS Immigrant fee: $220
- Fees for the translation of documents: costs will vary
It is important to keep in mind that the immigrant visa fee should be paid as soon as possible in order to avoid any delays in receiving your green card. USCIS will not issue a green card to you if you do not pay the immigrant fee.
How Long Does it Take for an IR2 Visa to be Processed?
The IR2 Visa is an Immediate Relative visa that benefits from not being restricted to a yearly cap. This means that as soon as the petition is approved, the application can begin, unlike Preference Relative Visa where they will have to wait considerably longer for a spot to open up.
Although processing times depend on each individual case, you should usually expect your IR2 visa to be processed within 3-12 months.
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If your child is under 18 years old when they arrive in the United States under the IR2 visa, they will immediately be given U.S. citizenship. If your child is over 18 but under 21 years old, they will be given permanent resident status (aka, a green card). They can then apply for citizenship once they are eligible.
Children who arrive in the U.S. under the IR2 visa will enjoy all the benefits and privileges of permanent residents. This means that they can apply for a social security card once they are in the United States.
If you recently adopted a child abroad and have not yet lived with them for the required two years of the IR2 visa, you can instead apply for an IR3 visa for children adopted abroad.