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The EB-4 visa is an immigrant visa that allows “special immigrant” workers to permanently come to the United States for employment.
Who Qualifies for the EB-4 Visa?
In order to qualify for an EB-4 visa, an individual must fit into one of several “special immigrant” worker categories:
Special Immigrant Juveniles
Individuals qualify for an EB-4 visa if they are “special immigrant juveniles.” A special immigrant juvenile includes individuals who are already in the United States and need the protection of a juvenile court as a victim of abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a parent. A juvenile must already be in the United States in order to qualify for an EB-4 visa.
Individuals may qualify for the EB-4 visa if they are religious workers. Qualifying religious workers includes ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations or occupations who come to the United States to work in a full-time compensated position for a bona fide U.S. non-profit religious organization, or one affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.
Afghan or Iraqi Translators and Interpreters
Individuals may qualify for the EB-4 visa if they are Afghan or Iraqi translators or interpreters. An Afghan or Iraqi qualifies for the EB-4 visa if they are:
- Paroled or admitted as a nonimmigrant into the United States;
- Physically present in the United States;
- Have an approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrants;
- Have a visa immediately available at the time Form I-485 is filed; and
- Admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or are eligible to receive a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief.
International Organization Employees
Individuals may qualify for the EB-4 visa if they are certain international organization employees. Certain long-term employees of international organizations and their family members may qualify for the EB-4 visa if they have:
- Maintained nonimmigrant status in the United States and have resided and have been physically present in the U.S. for a total of at least half of the seven years preceding application;
- A combined period of physical residence in the U.S. of at least 15 years before retirement; and
- Filed Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrants no later than six months after retirement.
NATO-6 Civilian Employees
Individuals, along with their unmarried children, may qualify for the EB-4 visa if they entered the United States in NATO-6 nonimmigrant status as civilian NATO employees. This includes retired NATO-6 nonimmigrants and the spouses and children of deceased or retired NATO-6 nonimmigrants.
Individuals may qualify for the EB-4 visa if they physicians from a foreign country who has graduated from a foreign medical school or have licensure as a practicing physician in a foreign country and has maintained full and permanent licensure to practice medicine in a U.S. state on January 9, 1978 and practiced medicine in a state on that date. Additionally, physicians who were admitted to the United States before January 10. 1978 as a J or H nonimmigrant may qualify. Qualifying physicians must have continuous presence in the United States since their admission in the practice or study of medicine.
Iraqis Employed by or on behalf of the U.S. Government
Individuals may qualify for the EB-4 visa if they are Iraqi nationals who have been employed by or on behalf of the United States government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003. Such individuals must have been employed for a period of not less than one year, and have experienced or are experiencing an ongoing serious threat due to that employment.
Afghans Employed by or on behalf of the U.S. Government
Individuals may qualify for the EB-4 visa if they are Afghan nationals who have been employed by or on behalf of the United States government for a minimum of one year between Oct. 7, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2023. Such individuals must have also experienced or are experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of their employment.
Other Qualifying Categories
Individuals who do not fit into one of the above-listed categories may also qualify for the EB-4 visa if they fit into any one of these additional categories:
- Certain U.S. government employees who are abroad, along with their family;
- Members of the U.S. armed forces;
- Certain broadcasters;
- Panama Canal company or Canal Zone government employees.
What is the Process to Receive an EB-4 visa?
The application process for the EB-4 visa is fairly straightforward. Generally, the application process is led by the applicant’s employer; however certain situations require the applicant to self-petition. The steps below outline the application process:
Step One: U.S. Employer or Applicant Files Form I-360 with the USCIS
The prospective U.S. employer for the EB-4 applicant, or the applicant him or herself must complete and sign Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrants according to the form’s instructions. The form is submitted with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After completing and signing the form, it must be submitted with the applicable filing fee and documentary evidence showing the applicant meets the qualifications for the EB-4 visa eligibility category.
Evidence to be Submitted with Form I-360
When submitting Form I-360, each eligibility category requires certain qualifying evidence be provided that proves the applicant’s eligibility for the EB-4 visa under that category. For example, individuals applying for a EB-4 visa as special immigrant juveniles must provide their birth certificate or other evidence of their age, along with a court order or administrative documents that establish the applicant’s eligibility under the special immigrant juvenile category, and a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services consent, if applicable.
The USCIS provides a checklist of required initial evidence to be submitted with Form I-360 under each EB-4 visa eligibility category.
Step Two: Applicant Files Online Forms DS-260 and DS-261
EB-4 applicants who are outside of the United States at the time they apply must also submit the online Form DS-260 and DS-261 application and pay the associated fee.
Step Three: Applicant Schedules Visa Interview
After submitting Form DS-260, EB-4 applicants must then schedule an interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate near them. At their interview, EB-4 applicants will be required to have their biometrics taken and will be asked questions about their background, experience, and interest in coming to the United States permanently. Applicants must bring the following items to their interview:
- Copy of printed Form DS-260;
- Copy of Form I-360;
- A valid passport;
- A photo conforming to the United States Department of State’s photo requirements;
- Evidentiary documents proving the applicant’s qualifications;
- An affidavit of support from the applicant’s employer.
Step Four: Applicant Files Form I-485 with the USCIS
After Form I-360 is approved, the EB-4 applicant must wait until his or her priority date is current in order to apply for legal permanent resident status. Once the priority date is current, the applicant must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status with the USCIS. Once Form I-485 is approved by the USCIS, the applicant will officially be a lawful permanent resident in the United States.
Applicants Already Inside the United States
EB-4 visa applicants who are already in the United States at the time they apply must file Form I-485 to change their visa status along with Form I-140.
Premium process is not available for EB-4 visa applicants.
How much does it cost to get an EB-4 visa?
- The Form I-360 filing fee is $435.
- The Form I-485 filing fee is $750-$1,450, dependent on the applicant’s age.
- The biometrics fee for overseas applicants is $85.
- The Form DS-260 filing fee for overseas applicants is $445.
- The affidavit of support for overseas applicants is $88.
For how long is an EB-4 visa valid?
Once Form I-485 is approved by the USCIS, EB-4 visa holders will be issued a green card that is valid for 10 years. After the 10 year validity period, the green card may be renewed for another 10 years. Alternatively, the EB-4 visa holder may pursue citizenship, which will remove the need to renew legal permanent resident status (green card) every 10 years.