EB-4 Special Immigrant Visa
Hoping to acquire an EB-4 Visa in the United States? It is widely known that the United States has long been a destination for individuals seeking opportunities and refuge, not only for employment but also for those who can make significant contributions in special categories. The EB-4 Visa, also known as the Special Immigrant Visa, is one such pathway that grants special immigrant status to individual. Let’s look into the various aspects of the EB-4 Visa, from its eligibility requirements to the categories it covers and its importance within the U.S. immigration system.
What is an EB-4 Visa?
The EB-4 Visa, or “Special Immigrant Visa,” is a way for certain people who do not fit into the usual immigrant groups to become special immigrants in the US. With the EB-4 Visa, these special immigrants stand to gain privileges of permanent resident status, including the freedom to travel, live, work, and study in the United States. This program also allows these individuals to obtain permanent residency in the United States. These individuals, referred to as “special immigrants,” are often found in the Categories listed below:
Categories of Special Immigrants Who are Eligible for the EB-4 Visa Program include;
- Religious Workers
- Special Immigrant Juveniles
- Armed Forces Members
- International Broadcasters
- G-4 International Organization Employees
- Special Immigrant Physicians
- Juveniles Dependent on a Court
Importance of an EB-4 Visa within the U.S. Immigration System
The EB-4 Visa holds high importance within the U.S. immigration system for several reasons:
- The EB-4 Visa covers a wide range of categories, including religious workers, special immigrant juveniles, international broadcasters, armed forces members, and more. Each category serves a unique purpose and recognizes the unique contributions of individuals in various fields.
- The Special Immigrant Juveniles category offers protection to minors who have been subjected to abuse or neglect. It ensures that these vulnerable children can find safety and refuge in the United States.
- The category for Armed Forces members who have served honorably for at least 12 years recognizes and honors their dedication to the United States. It offers them a pathway to permanent residency and eventually, citizenship.
- The EB-4 Visa program is not limited to religious or humanitarian categories. It also includes individuals who have worked for international organizations, providing critical services that support U.S. interests abroad.
- The EB-4 Visa program contributes to the overall diversity of the United States by allowing individuals from various backgrounds and professions to become permanent residents. This diversity enriches American society and fosters cultural exchange.
Why Should I get an EB-4 Visa?
The EB-4 visa includes various subcategories, allowing a wide range of individuals to qualify so it can be your path to U.S residency, if you are granted an EB-4 visa, you are generally eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residency) after a certain period. This can lead to long-term residency and, eventually, U.S. citizenship.
Requirements for EB-4 Visa
It’s important to note that these requirements are subject to change, and they can vary based on the specific category and the circumstances of each applicant. You can have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information by consulting our immigration attorneys to provide guidance based on your situation.
How to Apply
The application process for the EB-4 Visa can vary depending on the specific category of special immigrant you are applying for. However, we have listed general steps to help you apply for the EB-4 Visa, so it’s essential to consider seeking legal advice from our immigration attorney for help on how to ensure that you follow the correct procedures for your situation:
- Determine Your Eligibility: First, you have to be sure that you identify the specific category within the EB-4 Visa program that you qualify for. Each category has its eligibility criteria, so it’s essential to ensure that you meet the requirements for that category.
- Find a U.S. Sponsor: In most cases, you will need a U.S.-based sponsor, which can be an employer, a religious organization, or another qualifying entity. The sponsor will typically file a petition on your behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Filing Form I-360: The petitioner, usually the employer or organization, must file Form I-360 with USCIS to establish the eligibility of the special immigrant eligibility within the selected category. The necessary supporting documents and evidence will differ based on the particular category in question.
- USCIS Review and Approval: USCIS will assess the Form I-360 petition and accompanying documents to evaluate whether you satisfy the eligibility criteria for the selected category. This assessment involves making sure that the information provided is accurate. If USCIS determines that you meet the eligibility criteria, they will approve the Form I-360 petition. You will then receive notification of this approval.
- Visa Availability: Whether you can get an EB-4 visa depends on the category which you file your application. To find out if a visa is available, you should look at the U.S. Department of State’s visa bulletin.
- Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing: When a visa becomes available, you have two choices. If you are already in the U.S., you can apply for a green card without leaving. If you are outside the U.S., you should visit a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country or where you live for an interview and check.
- Medical Examination: You’ll probably have to see a specific doctor, called a civil surgeon, for a medical check to make sure you don’t have any serious or contagious diseases. The results of this check will be included in your visa application.
- Affidavit of Support (If Required): In some cases, you might need someone to vouch for your financial support while you’re in the U.S., depending on the category you’re in. This person, known as the financial sponsor, may need to fill out a form called an affidavit of support.
- Attend an Interview (If Required): If you are required to attend an interview, be prepared to answer questions about your eligibility and the purpose of your immigration to the United States. The consular officer will review your case during the interview.
- Pay Visa Fees: The required visa application fee can vary depending on your category and other factors. The fee can generally be paid at the U.S. embassy or consulate before your interview.
- Receive Visa Issuance: If your application is approved, you will receive the EB-4 Visa, typically stamped in your passport, allowing you to enter the United States.
Common Processing Time for an EB-4 Visa
The processing times for EB-4 Visas also varies depending on several factors, including the category of special immigrant, the country of your residence, and the specific U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service center or U.S. embassy/consulate handling your case.
- I-360 Petition Processing Times: Processing times for Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant), typically filed by your U.S. sponsor, can vary. On average, it may take several months to a year for USCIS to process the I-360 petition. Delays can occur if there is a high volume of petitions or if USCIS requests additional evidence.
- Priority Dates: The availability of visa numbers is based on priority dates, which is the date USCIS received the I-360 petition. Depending on the category and the country of your residence, there may be visa number backlogs, which can significantly impact processing times. The U.S. Department of State publishes a Visa Bulletin each month that provides information on visa availability and priority dates for each category.
- Consular Processing Times: If you reside outside the United States and your EB-4 Visa application involves consular processing (i.e., attending an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate), processing times can vary by location and time of year. You should check with the specific embassy or consulate for estimated processing times, as they can change.
- Adjustment of Status (If Applying from Within the U.S.): If you are already in the United States and need to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident (green card holder), the processing times for Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) can vary. It may take several months to over a year to process the Adjustment of Status application.
- Administrative Processing: In some cases, visa applications, especially for individuals from certain countries or for specific categories, may undergo administrative processing, which can lead to additional delays. This process involves additional security clearances and background checks.
- Case Complexity and Completeness: The completeness and accuracy of your application, as well as the complexity of your case, can also affect the processing times. Any requests for additional evidence or corrections to your application can result in delays.
Job Requirements for EB-4 Visa (Religious Workers Special Immigration)
The job requirements for an EB-4 visa can vary depending on the specific category under which you are applying. Generally, EB-4 visas are for special immigrants who serve in various roles, such as religious workers, government employees, healthcare workers, and others. The job requirements are typically specific to the category you are applying for and may include qualifications, experience, and responsibilities related to that particular role. Let’s take a look at some of the job requirements for an EB-4 Visa
- The job must be full-time. That means you must work for at least 35 hours each week.
- You must be paid for the job, either salaried or unsalaried.
Job History Requirements
Your job history also matters. You have to meet the following standards:
- You must already have a job that fits the descriptions above.
- You should have started working at this job after you turned 14.
- You must have worked at this job for two continuous years immediately before applying. If the two years are not continuous it may be okay if the following is true:
- You were a religious worker at a different job.
- You were still a member of the same denomination.
- The break wasn’t longer than two years.
- The break was for religious training or sabbatical, but not unauthorized work in the U.S.
Requirements of the Organization
The religious organization you want to work for has to prove they are a nonprofit. This usually happens by showing paperwork that says the organization is tax-exempt. The organization also has to explain how you will be paid.
Medical Examination and Vaccinations Required for an EB-4 Visa
The specific medical examination and vaccination requirements for an EB-4 Visa can vary over time and may be subject to change. Therefore, it’s important to specify the exact category that you are applying for an EB-4 Visa when seeking information from us.
You will be required to undergo a medical examination by an authorized panel physician. The examination is designed to identify any medical conditions that could be of public health concern make an applicant inadmissible to the United States. It typically includes a physical examination, review of medical history, and testing for certain communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB). The panel physician will provide the results directly to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Vaccination requirements may vary, but generally, applicants for immigrant visas are required to have certain vaccinations, including those for diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and influenza. Vaccination requirements can change, so it’s important to check for the most current vaccine requirements.
Contact CFUIS – EB-4 Visa Lawyer
There is a lot to consider before applying for an EB-4 Visa. We can answer your questions and make sure you fill out the forms correctly. You can contact our immigration lawyers by calling 813-298-7222, emailing, filling out our contact form, or scheduling an appointment.