The main difference between an IR-1 and IR-2 immigrant visas is who they are for; an IR-1 visa is for a spouse of an U.S. citizen, while the IR-2 visa is for an unmarried child of an U.S. citizen who is under the age of 21. The fees and application forms are identical, and both are classified under the same status of immediate relative (IR), which is priority level one and therefore is not affected by fiscal year immigration caps.
An IR-1 visa is an immigrant visa reserved for alien spouses of U.S. citizens. IR-1 visas are available only for the spouses of U.S. citizens and not for the spouses of Legal Permanent Residents, also referred to as green card holders. Visas for the spouses of LPRs are classified as F2 priority and are held to a fiscal year cap. The IR-1 visa allows for immediate filing of permanent residency once the visa is granted.
An IR-2 visa holds the same privileges as an IR-1 though for a minor child of an U.S. citizen rather than a spouse. Only unmarried children under the age of 21 qualify for an IR-2 visa. Like the IR-1, IR-2 visas are classified under first priority and are not held to a waiting line and cap.
The majority of immigrant visas require a petition filed by an U.S. citizen on behalf of the immigrant. Both the IR-1 and IR-2 visas require the filing of Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. If filing for both visas at the same time, the U.S. citizen must file two separate I-130 petitions and pay the appropriate fees. The only differences between filing I-130 for an IR-1 and IR-2 are in the required supplemental documents. An IR-1 requires copies of the marriage certificate, proof of shared domicile or shared funds and a sworn affidavit by a third party verifying your marriage. The IR-2 requires only a copy of the child's birth certificate with both your name and the child's name on it.
Both IR-1 and IR-2 applicants must attend a visa application appointment with their select U.S. Consulate General. Both visas require the submission of DS-230 Immigrant Visa Application, I-864 Affidavit of Support, all civic documents such as marriage and birth certificates and a receipt of the required medical exam. The U.S. Consulate General notifies all applicants of when and where to attend a medical exam.
The I-130 application fee for both IR-1 and IR-2 is $420 and the DS-230 Immigrant Visa Application $330 for a total application cost of $750 (as of 2010). Additional costs such as translations, photocopies and transportation also apply to both.