EB-4: Employment Based Greencard – Special Immigrants Including Religious

EB-4: Employment Based Greencard - Special Immigrants Including Religious

The EB-4 category is for special immigrants such as religious workers, certain long-time employees of the U.S. government, citizens of Iraq or Afghanistan that have worked for the U.S. Armed Forces as a translator for at least 1 year, some physicians who have residence in the U.S. for a number of years, juvenile dependents of a court who are eligible for foster care, some dependents of diplomats, employees of the American Taiwan Institute for at least 15 years, persons who have served in active duty in the U.S. armed services for 12 years or after 6 if they have reenlisted for 6 additional years, etc.

Employer sponsorship through a permanent, full time job offer is required but a labor certification is not required.

Religious Workers


To qualify as an EB-4 special immigrant religious worker, the alien must be a member of a religious denomination that has a non-profit religious organization in the U.S. The alien must have been a member of the religious denomination for at least two years before applying for admission to the U.S. The alien must have been carrying on the vocation, professional work, or other work as described below continuously for the past two years. The alien’s past work in the position must have been full time and compensated. Volunteer work does not count.

Because of this two years requirement, it is quite common for religious workers to enter the U.S. on an R-1 nonimmigrant visa and file for permanent residence after working two years in a religious position.

The alien must seek to enter the U.S. solely:

  • As a minister or priest of the religious denomination; or

  • In a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation for the religious organization (professional capacity means that a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent is required to do this job); or

  • In a religious vocation or occupation for the religious organization or its nonprofit affiliate.
    Religious vocation: A calling or devotion to religious life. Taking vows can prove that you have a calling to religious life.
    Religious occupation: An activity devoted to traditional religious functions. e.g., include, but not limited to, cantors, missionaries, and religious instructors.

Any person, including the alien himself/herself, may file the petition for the religious worker.

All special immigrant religious workers, other than ministers, must immigrate (i.e., enter the U.S.) or adjust their status to permanent residence (i.e. have their Form I-360 and Form I-485 approved) before the program sunset date, currently September 30, 2020.


  • The application fee must be sent with the application.
    There is no biometric fee.

    Fee details

  • A Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
    In Part 2, Classification Requested, item “d” must be checked.

  • Evidence establishing that the religious organization, and any affiliate which will employ the person, is a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the U.S. and is exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

  • A letter from an official of the religious organization in the U.S. that establishes the following:
    • You have been a member of the denomination for two years, and that you have at least two years of experience in your religious vocation/occupation.

    • Attesting to the alien’s membership in the religious denomination and explaining, in detail, the person’s religious work and all employment during the past two years and the proposed employment.
    • Depending upon the area you are seeking to work in:
      • Minister: You must have been authorized to perform religious duties in general and should specify which duties you are authorized to perform.

      • Religious professional: You must have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or the foreign equivalent that is required for your religious profession. You must also submit an official academic record.

      • Another religious vocation or occupation: You are qualified to work in that religious vocation or occupation. e.g., If you are applying to work as a nun or a monk, you would need to provide evidence that you are a nun or a monk.

      • Non-ministerial or non-professional capacity for a religious organization affiliated with a religious denomination: Establish how the religious organization is affiliated with the denomination.

Filing The Application

Application Filing Instructions

Persons Serving as Translators with the United States Armed Forces

The National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year of 2006 established a new immigrant visa clarification for self-petitioning Iraqi or Afghani nationals who have worked directly with the United States Armed Forces as translators for a period of at least 12 months. The total number of principal aliens who may be provided special immigrant status under this provision may not exceed 50 in any fiscal year.

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