EB-4 Special Immigrant Visas for Religious Workers

EB-4 Special Immigrant Visas for Religious and Other Workers and Special Juvenile Immigrant Status

Approximately 140,000 immigrant visas are available each fiscal year for aliens (and their spouses and children) who seek to immigrate based on their job skills. If you have the right combination of skills, education, and/or work experience and are otherwise eligible, you may be able to live permanently in the United States.

The Employment Based 4th preference is reserved for “special immigrants,” which includes certain religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, alien minors who are wards of courts in the United States, and other classes of aliens.

You may be eligible for an employment-based, fourth preference visa if you are a special immigrant. The following special immigrants are eligible for the fourth preference visa:

Special Immigrant Religious Workers

Ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations may immigrate to or adjust status in the U.S. for the purpose of performing religious work in a full-time compensated position.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify as a special immigrant religious worker, the foreign national must:

  1. Have been a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately \before the filing of a petition for this status with USCIS.
  2. Seek to enter the United States to work in a full time, compensated position in one of the following occupations:
    • Solely as a minister of that religious denomination;
    • A religious vocation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity;
    • A religious occupation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity; or
    • A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States.
  3. Be coming to work for either:
    • A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States; or
    • A bona fide organization that is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States.
  4. Have been working in one of the positions described above after the age of 14, either abroad or in the United States, continuously for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of a petition with USCIS. The prior religious work need not correspond precisely to the type of work to be performed. A break in the continuity of the work during the preceding two years will not affect eligibility so long as:
    • The foreign national was still employed as a religious worker;
    • The break did not exceed two years; and
    • The nature of the break was for further religious training or for sabbatical. However, the foreign national must have been a member of the petitioner’s denomination throughout the two years of qualifying employment.

Family of EB-4 Visa Holders

Some EB-4 classifications allow derivative beneficiaries. Your spouse may also be admitted to the United States. Your children, unmarried under the age of 21, may be admitted to the United States. For more information please see the appropriate “Green Card” link to the right.

Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ) Status

The purpose of the SIJ program is to help foreign children in the United States who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected.

  • Certain children who are unable to be reunited with a parent can get a green card as a SIJ
  • Children who get a green card through the SIJ program can live and work permanently in the United States

The immigration lawyers at Allen & Pinnix, P.A. have a long history of assisting religious workers in immigrating to the U.S.  Please call our office for an appointment or schedule a consultation here.

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