If you are a U.S. citizen, immigration law allows you to petition to have your close relatives join you in the United States. These Immediate Relative (IR) Petitions may be filed on behalf of the following family members:
- Unmarried children under the age of 21
- Orphans adopted abroad or in the United States
- Parents (provided the sponsor is 21 or older)
Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws cannot be sponsored for immigration.
Unlike Family Preference immigrant visas, there is no limit on the number of Immediate Relative immigrant visas issued each fiscal year. This means that you don’t have to wait for months or even years for your spouse and other loved ones to come to the United States to be with you.
Below is an overview of the five Immediate Relative (IR) visas and which family members qualify for each one.
The IR-1 is intended for the spouse of a U.S. citizen and allows for immediate application for permanent residency once it is granted. You must be legally married – immigration regulations do not issue IR-1 visas to couples who merely live together – and be able to provide proof of the marriage. As the sponsor, you must also have a valid U.S. address and the ability to support your foreign-born spouse until he or she finds employment.
Same-sex spouses are also eligible for an IR-1 visa unless you were married in a country that does not allow same-sex marriage. To ensure that your foreign spouse can join you in the U.S., you must get married in a place which has legalized same-sex marriage.
If you were married for less than two years when your spouse arrives, he or she will be granted a CR-1 visa, which can be converted into an IR-1 after two years by filing a Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. If you were married longer, your spouse can have their CR-1 visa immediately converted on arrival by notifying Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that you have been married two years. Receipt of an IR-1 will provide your spouse with a 10-year green card.
An IR-2 visa is for your unmarried children who are under the age of 21 or eligible to be treated as a minor under the Child Status Protection Act. Once the visa is issued, your child can live with you in the U.S., attend school, and get a job without needing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and ultimately obtain U.S citizenship. Adopted children are also eligible for an IR-2 if they have been living with you in a foreign country for at least two years.
When a U.S. citizen adopts a child from a foreign country and wants to bring them to the United States, that child requires an IR-3 visa. In order for them to qualify, they must be under 21 and eligible under the U.S Immigration and Nationality Act. You must also complete the adoption process in their home country. Like IR-2 visa recipients, your adopted child may live with you in the United States, attend school, get a job, and eventually become a U.S. citizen.
Like the IR-3 visa, the IR-4 is intended for foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizens. The difference is that you obtain guardianship of the child in their home country and bring them to the United States to finalize the adoption.
The IR-5 visa allows U.S citizens who are at least 21 years old to bring their parents to live with them in the United States. You must demonstrate financial stability so that you can support your parents if necessary until they find employment.
Contact an Immigration Attorney
At the Law Offices of Connie Kaplan, PA, we find family-based immigration one of the most rewarding areas of our practice and will help you through every step of the process until your family is reunited and settled in the United States. For more information, contact us today!