US Immediate Relative Visas – The Ultimate Guide

An immediate relative visa enables the family members of a US citizen to get a green card.

The US has a different category of family visas other than then family-based immigration visas. These are the immediate relative visas. Unlike the family-based visas that are used for both US citizens and lawful permanent residence (LPR), the immediate relative visas are only for US citizens.

The objective of this article is to look deep into the immediate relative visa, its types, and its application process.

What is The Immediate Relative Visa?

These are visas for US citizens to reunite with family members who live out of the country. It is only limited to spouses, children, and parents. Other family members such as siblings, grandparents or cousins do not qualify and can’t apply for these visas.

With an immediate relative visa or family visa, the family member gets a green card. This implies that they can move to the US and live there permanently. They can find a job with no need of an employment authorization document (EAD) or enroll in school. They can equally own property in the US, obtain a driver’s license and travel in and out of the country for short periods.

The most advantageous aspect of the US family visa is that it doesn’t have a yearly limit. Other family-based and employment-based visas have the yearly cap. Due to this, the processing and wait time for applicants is much longer. The immediate relative visa has no disadvantages and is better if you intend to reunite with your US-based family. Once you qualify for an immediate family visa, you don’t need to wait for your turn to get processed. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will give as many family visas to the USA as necessary without any yearly quota.

What are the Different Types Of Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas?

As with other categories of US immigrant visas, this category also has different types. The types of immediate relative visas are:

What are the requirements for an Immediate Relative Visas?

Each one of these five visas has its criteria. Applicants must meet these requirements else their visa risks being denied by the USCIS.

Requirements For IR1 Visa

Below are the requirements of for the IR1 visa;

  • The couple should be legally married and must have a valid marriage certificate to prove that.
  • The couple should have been married for at least two years (those who are marred less than 2 years can get a conditional residence visa that is CR-1)
  • The US citizen must have a valid US address.
  • The US citizen must be able to financially support the spouse until they can find a job.

Requirements For IR2 Visa

The requirements for IR2 visas are:

  • The US citizen must have a valid birth or adoption certificate for their child.
  • The US citizen must have a valid US address.
  • He/she must be able to financially support the child.
  • The child must be unmarried and below 21 years old.
  • If the US citizens have already adopted the child, they must have been living with the child for at least two years in a foreign country to qualify for the visa.

IR3 and IR4 Visa Requirements

Here are the criteria for the IR3 and the IR4 visas:

  • The child must be eligible for adoption under the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • The child must be below 21 and unmarried.
  • The child must be from a Hague or non-Hague convention country.
  • The US citizen parent must pass an eligibility test by USCIS.
  • The US citizen must plan to bring the child to live in the US.
  • The US citizen must have a valid US address.

More information concerning the requirements of these visas can be found in their article.

Requirements For IR5 Visa

The requirements for the IR5 visa are:

  • The US citizen must have a valid address.
  • The US citizen must be at least 21 years old.
  • The US citizen must be financially stable to support the parent until they find a job.
  • The US citizen’s parents must be living in a foreign country.
  • The US citizen must prove the relationship to their parent with a valid birth certificate.

How to Apply For The US Immediate Relative Visas?

Given that these visas are quite different, they also have different application procedures. They all commence with the petition of the US citizen regardless of their differences. The foreign applicant cannot start applying on his or her own. Based on the 5 types of visas, there are two more similar application procedures. The process for IR1, IR2, and IR5 visas are similar while the procedure for IR3 and IR4 visas are alike. The outline below goes through the general overview of the processes.

How To Apply For IR1, IR2, AND IR5 Visas

There are a few steps in this process that must be followed by applicants for a successful application. The steps are as follows;

STEP 1: File The Petition

To commence this application process, the US citizen has to file a petition to USCIS for the family member. The US citizen petitions for the child, spouse or parent. They must file form I-130, petition for alien relatives to USCIS.

The application will be processed by USCIS and if approved, the case goes to the National Visa Center (NVC). NVC will then assign a case number along with an invoice ID number. They will then proceed to send s package with instructions to the applicant (spouse, child, or parent). Then the application process begins.

STEP 2: File Form DS-260

The applicant in question must apply by filing form DS-260 online. It is the official immigrant visa application form. In case the child is a minor; someone can help them fill the form. In the end, the applicant must have the confirmation page of the form to use as proof that it was completed.

STEP 3: Complete Your Medical Examinations and Vaccinations

The applicant must follow the NVC instructions that were sent in the package, on what medical exams and vaccines they need to have. They should go to a licensed doctor or a hospital to complete them.

STEP 4: Compile Supporting Documents File

As evidence that the applicant meets the visa requirements, he/she must submit supporting documents. This could include:

  • A valid passport for more than 6 months after your entry to the US.
  • A signed form I-864, affidavit of support from the US petitioner.
  • Form DS-260 confirmation page.
  • Medical examinations and vaccination documents.
  • Two photographs per individual according to the photograph requirements.
  • Court and criminal records/police certificate.
  • Birth, adoption or marriage certificate.
    If the applicant served the military, they must bring their military records.

STEP 5: Attend Immediate Relative Visa Interview At The US Embassy

When the US embassy reviews the case, they will invite the applicant for an interview. They will ask questions about the application and the background after which they will decide whether or not to grant you the visa.

STEP 6: Receive Package From The NVC and Travel To The US

Should the visa be approved by the embassy, the applicant will be sent another package by the NVC. Under no circumstances shall the applicant open the package but bring it with them when they travel to the US.

The official at the US port of entry will open it and decide whether to let the applicant into the US or not.

Application Process For IR-3 and IR-4 Visas

These two visas have a more complex application procedure. It is dependent on whether the US citizen is adopting the child from a Hague or Non-Hague country. To start the application process, USCIS must approve the US citizen for adoption.

After getting approval from USCIS, the US citizen must submit form DS-260 for the adopted child. The US citizen may only adopt the child if the embassy approves the form. For those adopting a foreign child outside the US, they get an IR-3A visa. Adopting a foreign child within the US means they get an IR4 visa.

Immediate Relative Visa Fees

Since their application procedures are different, the fees for immediate family visas are also different.

Below are the fees for the IR-1, IR-2 and IR-5 visas:

  • Form I -130 filing fee=$535,
  • Processing fee for the form DS-260=$230,
  • USCIS immigrant fee=$220,
  • Medical examination and vaccination fees,
  • Fees to get and translate all supporting documents.

The fees for the IR-3 and IR-4 visas are:

  • Form I-800/I-800A filing fee=$775,
  • Form DS-260 processing fees=$230,
  • Form I-600/I-600A filing fee=$725,
  • Translation fees,
  • Fees to get supporting documents,

Immediate Relative Visa Processing Time

The processing time for the immediate family visa is quite fast given that they do not have any limits per year. USCIS reviews the cases as they come, but does not take long to make a decision. The processing times for each one of the visas is:

  • 8-10 for the IR-1 visa;
  • 3-12 months for the IR-2 visa;
  • 6 months to 1 year for the IR-3, IR-4, and IR-5 visas.

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