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Immigration for Immediate Relatives: The IR Visas

On Behalf of | May 20, 2019 | Blog

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can apply for immigration law to have your close relatives in the U.S. join you. On behalf of the following family members, these Immediate Relative (IR) Petitions may be filed:

  • Spouses
  • Unmarried children under the age of 21
  • Orphans adopted abroad or in the United States
  • Parents (provided the sponsor is 21 or older)

Unlike Family Preference Immigrant Visas, there is no limit on the number of Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas issued each fiscal year. This means you don’t have to wait for your spouse and other loved ones to come to the United States to be with you for months or even years. Below is an overview of the five Immediate Relative (IR) visas that are eligible for each family member.


The IR-1 is intended for a U.S. citizen’s spouse and, once granted, allows for immediate application for permanent residency. You need to be legally married–immigration regulations don’t issue IR-1 visas to couples who just live together–and be able to provide evidence of marriage. You also need to have a valid U.S. address as your sponsor and the ability to support your foreign-born spouse until he or she finds a job.

Same-sex spouses are also eligible for an IR-1 visa unless you are married in a country where same-sex marriage is not permitted. You need to get married in a place that has legalized same-sex marriage to ensure that your foreign spouse can join you in the U.S.


An IR-2 visa is for unmarried children under the age of 21 or eligible under the Child Status Protection Act to be treated as a minor. Once the visa is issued, your child can live in the U.S. with you, go to school, and get a job without the need for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Adopted children also qualify for an IR-2.


An IR-3 visa becomes a necessity when a U.S. citizen adopts a child from a foreign country and wants to bring them to the U.S. They must be under the age of 21 and eligible under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act to qualify. You also need to complete the process of adoption in your home country. Like IR-2 visa recipients, your adopted child may be living with you in the U.S., attending school, getting a job, and eventually becoming an American citizen.


Like the IR-3 visa, the IR-4 is intended for children from abroad who are adopted by U.S. citizens. The difference is that in their home country you get the child’s guardianship and bring them to the U.S. to finalize adoption.


The IR-5 visa allows at least 21-year-old U.S. citizens to bring their parents to the United States to live with them. You must show financial stability so that, if necessary, you can support your parents until they find a job.

Getting Legal Help

If you’re planning to apply for an IR visa, it’s best to consult with an experienced U.S. immigration attorney. Contact our team at (956) 412-0707 to determine how we can assist you.