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.

How do you petition for a stepchild?

U.S. citizens can apply for an IR-2 visa for their stepchild/stepchildren much the same as they can for a biological child. The caveat is that the child’s birth parent and stepparent must have been married before the child turned 18. The stepparent does not need to formally adopt the stepchild in order to apply.

If the stepchild is under 21 and unmarried, they qualify as an “immediate relative” of their American citizen stepparent. This means they can apply for an IR2 visa without waiting for a green card to become available.

If the stepchild is married or over 21, they don’t qualify as an immediate relative, and will have to wait for a visa to become available. This process usually takes a number of years.

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 Boundless. When you’re ready to apply, Boundless can guide your entire family through every milestone of the process, starting with your green card application all the way to the finish line.


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This process, as with most immigration processes, is not only long-winded and tricky to fully comprehend, but it's also riddled with hidden elements that are not publicised by the relevant authorities. Knowing the law is essential. Experience with handling cases month after month is invaluable. MUSA is an essential ally in tackling immigration processes in a meticulously planned and correct way. Don't risk your filing fees.




IR-2 Visa Interview

Your child will need 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. 

If the visa application fees were collected by the National Visa Center (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.

The IR-2 Visa Process

The IR2 visa is part of the IR (“Immediate Relative”) category, which has no annual caps. This means there is no wait until a green card becomes available. 

Step 1: Establishing the Parent/Child Relationship

The first step is to file a Petition to establish that the petitioner is a US national and a valid parent/child relationship exists. If USCIS needs more evidence or information they will send the sponsoring parent a Request for Evidence (RFE) within 2–3 months.

Step 2: Apply for the Green Card 

Once the Petition is approved, the parent will file for an immigrant visa application and the embassy and the consulate will then schedule an interview for you and your child. Prior to the interview, your child will need to have a medical exam. If the interview is successful, the visa will be granted and your child will be able to immigrate to the U.S. 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 U.S. with their parents. If they enter while over 18 years old, they become permanent residents and receive a green card.

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)
  • The child must be under age 21
  • The child must be unmarried
  • For stepchildren to qualify, the child’s birth parent and stepparent must have been married before the child turned 18

IR-2 for Children of US Citizens

What is the IR-2 Visa?

The IR-2 visa is for the child of a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S. to enter and live in the US.

If you are a U.S. citizen and have a child who is under the age of 21 and unmarried outside the U.S. who is not a green card holder or a U.S. citizen, then they may be eligible to use the IR-2 visa.

The IR-2 visa is also possible if you are adopting a child outside the U.S. Visas are issued at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign country where a child lives.

IR-2 Visa Timeline
IR-2 Visa Cost
IR-2 Visa Eligibility
The IR-2 Visa Process
IR-2 Visa Interview


The government filing fee is $860. This doesn't include the cost of the medical examination, which can be between $200 to $500 and paid directly to the relevant doctor. 

IR-2 Visa Timeline

The processing time for an IR-2 child visa is usually between 18-24 months.

The best way to ensure your application doesn’t get delayed is to file all your paperwork correctly the first time around. MUSA will help you steer clear of all the usual mistakes and make sure your forms and documents are fit for purpose.