EB 4

An EB-4 Visa is a useful tool for those who want to work in the United States for a religious organization. Keep in mind, however, that this visa is only applicable for certain positions.

EB-4 Visa: Special Immigrants

An EB-4 Visa is referred to as a category for Special Immigrant Religious Workers. It is a way for immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship that is generally reserved for those in nonprofit religious organizations in the United States.

Labor certification is not required for this visa. Over 10,000 green cards are available each year in this category.

Who Qualifies as a Special Immigrant        

Those who can qualify for this visa are religious workers and others who work for a certified nonprofit religious organization. Those employed by the American Institute of Taiwan that provided labor to the U.S. for at least 15 years will also qualify as a special immigrant.

The following will also qualify:

  • Employees of the Panama Canal Zone
  • Doctors entering the United States as non-immigrants before Jan. 10,1978 and have lived in the U.S. while either studying or practicing medicine
  • Iraqi and Afghan residents who provided services with the U.S. Armed Forces in war, and who live under threat in his or her native country
  • Those working or retired from International Organization who lived in the U.S.
  • Those on active duty for 12 years in the U.S. military after Oct. 15, 1978, when enlisting outside of the United States
  • Dependents of foreign nationals that are declared eligible for foster care in the United States
  • Private employees of NATO
  • Spouses and children of deceased NATO employees
  • Those coming into the U.S. as broadcasters identified by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors

Who Qualifies as a Minister or Member of the Clergy   

A minister is considered someone accredited by a recognized religious group allowed to organize religious activities.

The following also qualify:

  • Buddhist monks
  • Commissioned officers of the Salvation Army with roles of rabbi, minister, or priest
  • Practitioners and Nurses of the Christian Science Church

The license or certificate or ordination can be used to provide evidence for recognition as clergy.

Who Qualifies as an “Other Religious Worker”    

These workers are those who are working in a religious vocation or occupation but is not an official clergy member. This category can include religious instructors, counselors, liturgical workers, those working in religious health care facilities, religious broadcasters, or missionaries.

Those not qualified in this category are those who are not working in a religious capacity. This includes those working in supportive roles like maintenance, reception, secretarial, fundraising staff, singers, and other development staff members.

The USCIS states that the employee should have a permanent salary and only working in a religious mission capacity.

How to Apply for Special Immigrant Status

When applying for special immigration status, expect to pay some fees. You will need to pay an application fee, but the biometric fee will be waived.

You will need to obtain a Form I-360 from the USCIS. The form will need to be properly completed, particularly on part two, classification requested item D. You will need to attest that the religious organization or other possible employers is a verified nonprofit in the United States and is tax exempt under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

The religious organization employing you will need to provide you with a letter on their official letterhead along with the completed application.

EB-4 Religious Worker Letter

The applicant must provide a letter attesting that they have been a member of the organization for at least two years. This time period will demonstrate your ability and your experience. This letter is evidence of the responsibilities and authorizations you hold within the organization if you are a minister.

You will need to have a bachelor’s degree if you are a religious professional. This degree or a foreign equivalent stated on the letter is required. You will also need to submit your official transcript.

For those who work in a non-professional or not as a minister but want to work with the religious organization in the United States, you will need to provide a letter that claims how the religious organization is affiliated with the stated denomination.

In your letter, you will need to break down the duties of the minister and your anticipated compensation when working as a professional or in another religious job.

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