EB-4 Special Immigrants, Religious Workers

Fourth Preference: Up to 10,000 visas a year may be issued to certain special immigrants, including ministers, religious workers, former U.S. government employees, and others.

1. Returning Residents. For Landed Permanent Residents (LPRs) who are returning from a temporary visit abroad.

2. Persons Reacquiring U.S. Citizenship. A person reacquiring U.S. citizenship.

3. Religious Workers.

Requirements- For at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the petition, the person has been a member of a religious denomination having a bone fide, nonprofit, religious organization in the United States, and

a. The person seeks to enter the U.S.: (1) to work full time (35 hours) in a compensated position, (2) solely to carry on his or her vocation as a minister, or

b. (3) to work for a bona fide, nonprofit religious organization in the U.S. or its affiliate in the U.S.; and

c. The person has been working as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation, either abroad or in lawful status in the U.S. for at least the 2-year period immediately preceding the filing of the petition.

4. Definitions. Religious Workers.

Bona Fide Nonprofit Religious Organziation in the United States. Is an organization exempt from taxation (section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986), or one that has never sought such exemption but establishes to the satisfaction of the Service that it would be eligible therefore if it had applied for tax exempt status.

Bona Fide Organization that is Affiliated with the Religious Denomination. An organization which is closely associated with the religious denomination and which is exempt from taxation as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as it relates to religious organizations.

Minster. An individual duly authorized by a recognized religious denomination to conduct religious worship and to perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion. There must be a reasonable connection between the activities performed and the religious calling of the minister.

Professional Capacity. An activity in a religious vocation or occupation for which the minimum of a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree is required.

Religious Denomination. A religious group or community of believers having some form of ecclesiastical government, a creed or statement of faith, some form of worship, a formal or informal code of doctrine and discipline, religious services and ceremonies, established places of religious worship, religious congregations, or comparable indicia of a bona fide religious denomination.

Religious occupation. An activity relating to a traditional religious function. Examples include, but are not limited to, liturgical workers, religious instructors, religious counselors, cantors, catechists, workers in religious hospitals or religious health care facilities, missionaries, religious translators, or religious broadcasters.

Religious vocation. A formal lifetime commitment to religious life, such as the taking of vows. Examples include, but are not limited to, nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters.

5. Evidence for Religious Worker

Evidence that the organization qualifies as a nonprofit organization may be in the form of:

a. Documentation showing that is exempt from taxation; or

b. Documentation to establish eligibility for exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; and

c. A letter from an authorized official of the religious organization in the United States which (as applicable to the particular foreign national) establishes:

 That, immediately prior to the filing of the petition, the foreign national has the required two years of membership in the denomination and the required two years of experience; or

 That, if the foreign national is minister, he or she has authorization to conduct religious worship and to perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy, including a detailed description of such authorized duties; or

 That, if the foreign national is a religious professional, he or she has at least a United States baccalaureate or its foreign equivalent required for entry into the religious profession; or

 That, if the foreign national is to work in another religious vocation or occupation, he or she is qualified in the religious vocation or occupation.


6. Job Offer for Religious Worker

 A letter from authorized official of the religious organization in the U.S., stating how the foreign nation will be solely carrying on the vocation of a minister, or how the foreign national will be paid or remunerated if the foreign national will work in a professional religious capacity or in other religious work.

7. Employees of U.S. Government, or of American Institute in Taiwan, for 15 Years

For U.S. employees abroad, Principle Office of Foreign Service must cite exceptional circumstances justifying grant of status.

8. Panama Canal Treaty Employees and their Spouses and Children

9. International Medical Graduates (IMGs). Eligbile IMGs entered U.S. on H/J visa, licensed to practice or practicing medicine in a state as of Jan. 1, 1978, and continued to practice and been continuously present since date of entry.

 10. G-4s. Retired G-4 officer and spouse, or unmarried son or daughter or widow(er) of employee or retired employee of an international organization, who has maintained G-4 or N status and who applies within 6 months of retirement.

 11. Court Dependents; Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ). Generally, covers a child: (1) who has been declared dependant by a juvenile court in the U.S., or who has been placed by such court in custody of a state agency or other individual or entity, and (2) whose reunification with one or both of his or her parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis found under state law. Statutory requirements also call for a proceeding to determine that it would not be in the child’s best interest to be returned to his county or his parent’s country of nationality or last habitual residence.

12. SIJ Eligibility

As long as a child’s dependency order has not been vacated, terminated or ended, the child can adjust status if his or her application is filed prior to reaching 21.

Procedure for SIJ Determination

A petition submitted on Form I-360 as well as the following supporting documentation:

(i) An appropriate court order meeting the requirements for SIJ including a finding of dependency, some form of custody or commitment, a determination that reunification is not a viable option, and a finding that it is in the juveniles best interest not to return to his or her native country or his or her parents’ native country.

(ii) Proof of juvenile’s age.

13. Revocation of SIJ. A SIJ petition may be revoked if the beneficiary does not have AOS of an IV and marries, ceases to be a dependent, or an administrative or judicial proceeding determines that it is the juvenile’s best interest to be returned to his or her (or his or her parent’s) country of nationality or habitual residence.

14. U.S. Service Members Who Honorable Served on Active Duty for 12 Years

 A Service Member may file for this petition if:

 Their service was after Oct. 15, 1978.

 Must have been a lawful enlistment outside the U.S. under a treaty or agreement in effect on the date of enactment of the law.

 May include a service person that has served for 6 years who is on active duty and has re-enlisted for 6 more years.

 Includes spouses and children.

 15. NATO Civilian Employees

Civilian employees eligible under this category are classified under NATO-6 who are:

  •  (i) Members of the civil component accompanying a force entering in accordance with NATO’s Status-of-Forces Agreement provision.
  •  (ii) Members of a civilian component attached to or employed by an Allied Headquarters under the Protocol of the Statue of International Military Headquarters.
  •  Included spouses and children.

16. BBG Broadcasters

 Broadcasters enter in the U.S. to work for the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) or for a grantee of the BBG.

  • Applicable petitioners include: BBG or a grantee of the BBG, which is Radio Free Asia, Inc. or Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.
  • Eligibility: reporter, writer, translator, editor, producer or announcer for news broadcasts; hosts for news broadcasts, news analysis, editorial, and other broadcast features or a new analysis specialist. It does not include persons performing purely technical or support services.
  • Procedure: submit I-360 petition accompanied documentation of: (1) the job title and a full job description; (2) the broadcasting expertise held by beneficiary; (3) description for how long he or she has been performing duties in relation to the perspective position or a statement on how he or she possesses the necessary qualifying skills.

17. Translators with the U.S. Armed Forces.

This category provides 500 visas per year for nationals of Iraq and Afghanistan if they:

a. Worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces or Chief of Mission as a translator or interpreter for a period of at least 12 months;

b. Obtained a favorable recommendation;

c. Cleared a background check

d. Are otherwise admissible to enter the United States

18. Iraqis Providing Faithful and Valuable Service to U.S. Provides visas for Iraqi citizens or nationals who:

a. Where employed by or on behalf of the U.S. in Iraq after March 20, 2003 for more than one year;

b. Provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. that can be demonstrated through positive recommendations;

c. Has experienced or is experiencing ongoing serious threats as a consequence of employment by the U.S.;

d. Are eligible to receive an IV including background check; and

e. Are otherwise admissible to enter the U.S.

  • Spouses and Children may accompany or follow to join.

19. Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009

Provides visas for citizen or national of Afghanistan who:

a. Was employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan on or after October 7, 2001, for not less than one year;

b. Provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government that is documented in a positive recommendation or evaluation;

c. Has experienced or is experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a result of that employment;

d. Is otherwise admissible and eligible to receive a visa; and

e. Clears a background check.

  • Spouses and Children may accompany or follow to join