IR-2 Visa: Applying For A Green Card For Children Under 21
If you reside in the United States and you have a child in another country, you may be considering the best option for them to lawfully join and live with you. There are many reasons why this may happen; it might be that you have adopted a child from another country, or you may have a child who was born overseas and still lives thereafter you have returned to the US. It may also be that you yourself are an immigrant who has acquired citizenship in the US and wish to bring your child to live with you, perhaps after gaining custody. Whatever the reason, it is important to seek expert advice of an immigration lawyer to ensure you choose the best route for your child. The most likely immigration option for those in this situation is the IR-2 child visa. In this article, we will explain how the IR-2 child visa works, the eligibility rules, and how to apply.
What Is The IR-2 Visa?
The IR-2 visa provides a Green Card for children under the age of 21 who are immediate relatives (IR) of a US citizen to enter and live in the United States. As the USCIS rules state, “If you are an immediate relative of a US citizen, you can become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) based on your family relationship if you meet certain eligibility requirements”. Immediate relatives include:
- The spouse of a US citizen;
- The unmarried child under 21 years of age of a US citizen; or
- The parent of a US citizen (if the US citizen is 21 years of age or older).
Under this immigration route, it is possible to bring your biological, step and adopted children to live with you in the United States. There is no set limit on the number of IR-2 visas which can be granted by USCIS.
What Are The Eligibility Rules For An IR-2 Visa?
In order to apply for an IR-2 child visa, there are several eligibility criteria that must be met:
- The child must be under 21
- The child must not be married
- The sponsor of the child must be a US citizen
- The sponsor must hold legal custody (in a form that is recognised under US law) – this custody must have been held for at least two years
- The sponsor must have resided with the child for a period of at least two years prior to the submission of the Green Card application form (this assumes the child is not adopted)
In terms of the relationship of the child to the US citizen, there are four eligibility categories:
- The applicant child is a natural-born child of parents who are married, and one of those parents is a US citizen.
- The applicant is a natural-born child of parents who are not married, and one of those parents is a US citizen. In this case, USCIS may ask for a paternity test to be carried out if the father is sponsoring the child.
- The applicant has been adopted by a sponsor who is a US citizen
- The applicant is a step-child of a sponsor who is a US citizen
It is always advisable to speak to an immigration attorney before submitting an IR-2 application to confirm that the eligibility rules are met to the standard required by the USCIS. Where there any issues in terms of proving eligibility, they will be able to recommend a course of action to ensure your application will be successful.
How Do I Apply For An IR-2 Visa For My Child To Join Me In The United States?
There are several steps that you will need to complete in order to secure the immigration permission needed to bring your child to the US, as follows:
Step 1) Complete and submit form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)
The purpose of form I-130 is to enable US citizens and or lawful permanent residents (LPR) to establish their relationship with an eligible relative, allowing them to enter the US and remain on a permanent basis with a Green Card.
Once your I-130 is submitted, it will be processed and considered by USCIS. Once approved, the National Visa Centre handling the case will advise the petitioner (i.e. the child’s relative) of the next stage – this will be to complete and submit form DS-260.
Step 2) Complete and submit form DS-260 (Immigrant visa electronic application)
The DS-260 will provide the child with the visa they need to enter the United States once their application has been approved.
Step 3) Submit any evidence requested by USCIS
USCIS will also request that you submit all of the evidence needed to prove your relationship with the child who is coming to live with you. Such evidence may include:
- Proof of the parent-child relationship
- Proof that you have lived with the child for two years outside of the US
- Proof of adoption
Once the DS-260 is complete and the evidence requested has been provided, the National Visa Centre handling your case will then consider the overall application. At this stage, they may request additional information and/or evidence to support your case.
If your application is approved, it will then be passed to the US embassy or consulate nearest to where your child lives. The embassy will then take over the process and arrange an interview for you and your child. They may also request that your child has a medical examination.
Step 4) Application decided
Once the embassy or consulate have processed the application in full, they will issue a final decision. If approved, your child will then be able to travel to the US to live with you.
Given the importance of securing a child Green Card, both for you and your child, it is essential that you invest the time and resources to ensure the application form is accurate and the evidence provided is complete. A US immigration attorney will be able to review your application prior to submission or handle the whole process for you, giving you the peace of mind that it has the best chance of a positive outcome.