Special Immigrant Religious Workers (EB-4)

What is EB-4?

EB-4 is an immigration visa in Immigration & Nationality Act 8 C.F.R. §203(b)(4)

Employment-Based Immigration: Fourth Preference EB-4. Petitioning for an Employment-Based Fourth Preference Immigrant To petition for an employment-based fourth preference immigrant, your employer must file a Form I-360.Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 categories each receive 28.6% of the annual visa quota, EB-4 and EB-5 each receive 7.1%. No visa cap for workers who fall under the ministerial role, but all other religious workers (e.g., nuns) are subject to a 5,000 annual visa cap

EB-4 applicants do not need to apply for labor certification.Spouses and children under the age of 21 may accompany, follow to join the principal applicant to the United States or adjust status in the United States.

Who may be eligible to apply under the EB-4 category

1.Religious workers intending to work as a minister, in a professional capacity in a religious vocation, or for a tax-exempt organization affiliated with a religious denomination(This article mainly introduces this kind of category.)

2.Special immigrant juveniles

3.Certain members of the U.S. Armed Forces


5.Certain physicians

6.Certain overseas employees of the U.S. government

7.Employees of the Panama Canal Zone

8.Retired employees of international organizations

9.Certain dependents of international organization employees

10.Afghan and Iraqi translators for the U.S. Armed Forces

Introduction about EB-4 visas for Special Immigrant Religious Workers

The special immigrant religious worker category is one of several employment-based fourth-preference (EB-4) visa classifications.

There is a statutory numerical limit (or “cap”) of 5,000 workers who may be issued a special immigrant non-minister religious worker visa during each fiscal year. There is no cap for special immigrant religious workers entering the U.S. solely for the purpose of carrying on the vocation of a minister.

Prospective EB-4 beneficiaries have to seek entry into the U.S. for the sole purpose of assuming a religious job position. Acceptable job positions include:
Priest or minister in their religious denomination
Professional religious jobs for which a U.S. degree or foreign equivalent is required
Religious vocations characterized by assuming a religious lifestyle requiring vows, education, and training recognized by the religious denomination

Eligibility Criteria for EB-4 Special Immigrant Religious Workers

To qualify as a special immigrant religious worker, the foreign national must:

1.Have been a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of a petition for this status with USCIS.

2.Seek to enter the United States to work in a full timecompensated position in one of the following occupations:
1) Solely as a minister of that religious denomination;
2) A religious vocation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity; or
3) A religious occupation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity.

3. Be coming to work for either:
1) A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States; or
2) A bona fide organization that is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States.

4.Have been working in one of the positions described above after the age of 14, either abroad or in the United States, continuously for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of a petition with USCIS. The prior religious work need not correspond precisely to the type of work to be performed. A break in the continuity of the work during the preceding two years will not affect eligibility so long as:
1) The foreign national was still employed as a religious worker;
2) The break did not exceed 2 years; and
3) The nature of the break was for further religious training or for sabbatical. However, the foreign national must have been a member of the petitioner’s denomination throughout the 2 years of qualifying employment.