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EB-4 (Special Immigrant & Religious Workers)

The EB-4 visa is specified as a special immigrant religious workers category. It is generally intended for members of a non-profit religious denomination in the United States, however, the category can cover a broad range of applicants:

  • Broadcasters
  • Iraqi and Afghan translators
  • Iraqis who have provided aid to the U.S.
  • Employees of an International Organization
  • Members of Armed Forces
  • Employees of the Panama Canal
  • Physicians
  • Retired employees of NATO-6
  • If NATO-6 employee is deceased, spouse and children are still eligible

EB-4 Visa Requirements:

The requirements differ for each EB-4 Visa applicant due to the amount of eligible participants, but the general requirements include:

  • The petition must be filed on Form I-360 with supplementary documentation
  • The petitioner is able to file without an employer

EB-4 Religious Worker Requirements:

For applicants wanting to file under the EB-4 religious workers category, it mandates precise requirements and qualifications in order to be eligible.

  • Must have been a worker for the religious denomination for a minimum of two years.

The applicant is required to be entering the United States as:

  • A priest or minister of religious denomination
  • A professional or nonprofessional religious occupation. This also includes religious vocation which is a calling/devotion to a religious lifestyle. The applicant must have taken vows and devoted him/herself to specific religious tradition.

EB-4 Religious Worker Application Procedure:

  • Employer is required to submit form I-360 to the USCIS.
  • A PERM is not required for the EB-4 religious workers, however, the applicant must provide evidence of the religious organization.
  • The applicant is required to submit proof that the religious organization is a non-profit organization.
  • The applicant is obligated to obtain a letter from a superior within the religious organization in the United States.

EB-4 Religious Worker Letter:

  • The letter must provide evidence that the applicant has been a member of the organization for a minimum of two years. It should also demonstrate that you have had at least two years of religious occupation/ vocation experience
  • If the applicant is a minister, the letter is obligated to provide proof of authorization and the duties entailed with the occupation.
  • If the applicant is a religious professional, he/she must have a bachelor’s degree for the EB-4 religious worker occupation. The professional must also have a letter stating the applicant’s U.S. bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. It is mandatory to submit an official transcript or academic record.
  • If the applicant is seeking religious employment in the United States, the letter is obligated to provide proof of applicant’s qualifications for the religious occupation/vocation.
  • If the applicant intends to work with a religious organization in the United States but as a non-professional or non-ministerial, the letter is meant to demonstrate how the organization is associated with the religious denomination.
  • The applicant’s letter must explain at length, the duties of the minister or the wages the applicant is expected to receive while working as a professional or other religious occupation. The letter should explain that the applicant will not rely on a secondary occupation or charity for financial support.

EB-4 Priority Dates

One thing to take into account when determining the EB-4 processing time is the concept of priority dates. Your priority date is the day that the USCIS receives your EB-4 petition. You will need to compare this date to the “final action dates” given in the visa bulletin released by the Department of State each month. When your priority date meets the EB-4 final action date for your country, your date will become “current”, meaning that an immigrant visa number is available and you can move onto the next step.

Keep in mind that these priority dates are not the same for everyone. Because there is an annual limit on each visa, that number is spread across several countries. If too many people from one country apply for the same green card, a backlog develops. This is why applicants from heavily populated countries such as China and India tend to have longer priority date waiting times than others.

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