EB-4 Special Immigrants
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Criteria for Eligibility

The EB-4 immigrant visa category is an employment-based preference category that allows for certain “Special Immigrants” to apply for lawful permanent resident status. To be eligible under this preference category, an applicant must first demonstrate that they meet the criteria of a “Special Immigrant,” as defined below:

  1. Religious Workers (8 CFR 204.5(m))
    1. Member of the religious denomination for at least the 2 years immediately prior to filing the petition;
    2. Seeking to enter the U.S. to work as a full-time minister or other religious occupation or vocation in either a professional or non-professional capacity;
    3. Coming to work for either a nonprofit, tax-exempt religious organization in the U.S. of that religious denomination or that is an organization affiliated with the religious denomination in the U.S.; and,
    4. Have been working in one of the above-mentioned positions continuously for at least 2 years immediately prior to filing the petition.
  2. Special Immigrant Juveniles (8 CFR 204.11)
    1. Physically present in the U.S.;
    2. Unmarried and under 21 years of age;
    3. Have a valid juvenile court order issued by a state court in the U.S. which finds:
      1. You are dependent on the court, or in the custody of a state agency or department or an individual or entity appointed by the court;
      2. Reunification with one or both of your parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis under state law; and,
      3. It is not in your best interest to return to your country of citizenship or nationality or last habitual residence
    4. Panama Canal Company Employee, Canal Zone Government Employee, U.S. Government in the Canal Zone Employee (22 CFR 42.32(d)(3))
      1. At the time the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 entered into force, you must have been either:
        1. A resident in the Canal Zone and had been employed by the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government for at least 1 year;
        2. A Panamanian national and either honorably retired from U.S. Government employees in the Canal Zone with a total of 15 or more years of faithful service; or,
        3. Employed for 15 years and honorably retired or was an employee of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government, had performed faithful service for 5years or more as an employee, and whose personal safety, or the personal safety of his or her spouse or child, is in danger as a direct result of the special nature of his or her employment and as a direct result of the Treaty.
      2. Special Immigrant Physicians (INA 101(a)(27)(H))
        1. Graduated from a medical school or is qualified to practice medicine in a foreign state;
        2. Was fully and permanently licensed to practice medicine in the U.S. on January 9, 1978, and was practicing medicine in a U.S. state on that date;
        3. Entered the U.S. as an H or J nonimmigrant before January 9, 1978; and,
        4. Have been continuously present in the U.S. and continuously engaged in the practice or study of medicine since the date of such entry.
      3. G-4 International Organization Employee or Family Member or NATO-6 Employee or Family Member (INA 101(a)(27)(I))
        1. Recently-retired, long-term G-4 nonimmigrant employee of a qualifying international organization entitled to enjoy privileges, exemptions, and immunities under the International Organizations Immunities Act or a relative of such employee; or,
        2. A long-term civilian employee of NATO (under the NATO-6 classification) or their relative.
      4. S. Armed Forces Member (INA 245(a) and (c))
        1. Served honorably on active duty after October 15, 1978;
        2. Lawfully enlisted outside of the U.S. under a treaty or agreement in effect on October 1, 1991, for a period or periods that total:
          1. 12 years
          2. 6 years, and are now on active duty, and have reenlisted to incur a total active duty service obligation of at least 12 years;
        3. A national of an independent state that maintains a treaty or agreement allowing nationals of that state to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces each year; and,
        4. Your executive department has recommended you for this status.
      5. Afghanistan or Iraq National who worked with the U.S. Armed Forces as a Translator
        1. Afghanistan or Iraq National;
        2. Worked directly with U.S. Armed Forces or the Chief of Mission as a translator for a period of at least 12 months;
        3. Obtained a favorable written recommendation from a general or flag officer in the chain of command of the unit you supported; and,
        4. You were cleared by a background check and screening prior to filing the petition.
      6. Iraq National who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. Government in Iraq; (9 FAM 502.5-12(B))
        1. Iraq national;
        2. Employed by or on behalf of the U.S. Government between March 20, 2003 and September 30, 2013 for at least 1 year;
        3. Provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government;
        4. Experienced or are experiencing ongoing serious threats as a consequence of your employment; and,
        5. Have or will clear a background check and screening.
      7. Afghanistan National who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. Government or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan; (9 FAM 502.5-12(B))
        1. Afghanistan national;
        2. Employed by or on behalf of the U.S. Government or ISAF in Afghanistan between October 7, 2001 and September 30, 2015, for a period not less than 1 year;
        3. Provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government or ISAF.
        4. Experienced or are experiencing ongoing serious threats as a consequence of your employment; and,
        5. Have or will clear a background check and screening.
      8. Broadcasters (8 CFR 204.13)
        1. Individual (and their accompanying spouse and children) who is entering the U.S. to work for the International Broadcasting Bureau of the United States Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) or a grantee of the BBG.

Application Process

To petition for an EB-4 immigrant, an employer must file an immigrant petition to classify the foreign national as one of the above “special immigrants” via Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. There are certain situations where the employee may self-petition on their own behalf.

Once the foreign national receives approval on the immigrant petition and has been classified as a special immigrant, the immigrant can file their Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status under the EB-4 preference category.

Family of Visa Holder

Some EB-4 classifications allow derivative beneficiaries, including spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, to be admitted to the U.S.

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