The fourth preference visa is reserved for applicants who fall under the category of “special immigrants.” Martin Lawler is an attorney who specializes in EB-4 visas. His firm Lawler & Lawler helped organize this resource for EB-4 visas information.
What is a EB-4 Visa?
To be considered as a special immigrant you must fall under one of the following categories as deemed by the USCIS:
- Religious Workers
- Armed Forces Members
- Panama Canal Zone Employees
- Special Immigrant Juveniles
- G-4 International Organization or NATO-6 Employees and Family Members
- Afghan and Iraqi Translators
- International Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad
- Certain Physicians
- Afghan and Iraqi Nationals Who Have Provided Faith Service in Support of U.S. Operations
What Paperwork is required?
The employer of a special immigrant visa holder is required to submit Form I-360. Form I-360 covers three options: Petition for Amerasian, Widow, or Special Immigrant.
What about the families of EB-4 Visa Holders?
If a person is approved for an EB-4 Visa certain benefits for family members apply. The spouse of someone approved under special immigrant status will also be allowed into the United States of America. Also, If the approved visa applicant has children who are under the age of 21 years old will also be allowed into America as long as those children are unmarried.
Specifics Qualifications for Broadcasters
According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, the International Broadcasting Bureau of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) may file an I-360 petition for a potential immigrant to qualify for special immigrant EB 4 visa status if they work as a broadcaster.
To qualify as a broadcaster the applicant must be either a:
Announcer of News Broadcasts
Host of News Broadcasts
Editorial of broadcast features
Or News Analyst Specialist.
The EB-4 visa also accepts people deemed as “grantees” for broadcasting. Qualifying grantees are Radio Free Asia Incorporated, or Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Incorporated.
It is worth noting that, the broadcaster benefits granted by the EB-4 Visa program do not apply for workers with purely technical or support roles.
Details on Form I-360 petition submission for applicants applying for special immigrant EB-4 status under the broadcaster regulations
- Every Form I-360 submission for a worker who will be fulfilling a role in broadcasting must also contain an accompanying form which contains supplemental information about the worker.
- First the page must include the job title and a job description about the role that the worker will be applying for.
- Secondly a detail list of the broadcaster’s employment history and skills that qualify the for the position and for EB-4 visa status.
What happens when EB-4 Visa limits are met?
Historically several countries have met the limitations for EB-4 visas when there are no more visas available for their nation. The countries of El Salvador, Guatamala, and Honduras all hit their visa limitations in September of 2016. In July of 2016 EB-4 Visa limitations were also reached for applicants from Mexico. The country of India also hit its EB 4 visa limit at the end of the fiscal year of 2016.
If a countries visa limit is met it does not mean that they can’t apply. The Form I-360 can still be filed no matter how many visas are available. The USCIS can still approve Form I-360s even if no visa’s are currently available. However it does mean that the immigrant will not be able to obtain an immigrant visa until those visas become available again.
Stipulations for Religious Workers Applying for Special Immigrant status under the EB 4 Visa
On December 8th, 2016 “non-minister” religious workers could no longer qualify for the EB-4 Visa program. If a religious worker was not a minister they were not able to qualify unless Congress created a law to address their eligibility, and if the president approved the bill.
As of September 8th, 2017, President Trump did just that with H.R. 601. H.R. 601 is a law that allows for non minister applicants to apply for the EB-4 special immigrant visa program again.
EB-4 Visas for Religious Workers in detail
The religious workers section of the EB-4 Visa allows for eligible ministers and non ministers in religious vocations to enter into the United States of America to perform their religious work as long as it is in a full time non volunteer position.
Non minister visas are limited to 5,000 workers per fiscal year. There is no cap on visas for ministers applying for EB-4 special immigrant visas, although with specific eligibility requirements.
To qualify an applicant must:
- Be a member of a registered non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years before filing the petition for EB-4 visa.
- They must be seeking entry as a full time compensated, meaning non volunteer, positions in one of the following roles:
- A minister
- A professional or nonprofessional religious vocation
- A professional or nonprofessional religious occupation
- A “bona fide non-profit religious organization”
They can be coming to work for either a bona fide non profit religious organization or one affiliated with such an organization
They are over the age of 14, and have been working for one of these positions above for at least 2 years before applying for the EB-4 special immigrant visa. There can be no break between the 2 years of work and the application for the visa unless the applicant was still employed as a religious worker in some other capacity, the break did not exceed 2 years and the break was for further training in the religious vocation that they work within.
To be considered full time work as it pertains to the religious worker visa the average hours a week is 35 hours.
The EB-4 visa remains as a viable option for entry into the United States. If you feel you might qualify as a “special immigrant” it is a good idea to seek legal counsel to walk you through the process. Contact Martin Lawler at Lawler & Lawler for a consultation.