What is EB4?
The employment-based fourth preference (EB4) category is an immigrant visa preference category for “special immigrants.” A person may apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the EB4 category if he or she meets the requirements for status as a special immigrant.
What is the EB4 Special Immigrant Category?The employment-based fourth preference (EB4) category is an immigrant visa preference category for "special immigrants." A person may apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the EB4 category if he or she meets the requirements for status as a special immigrant. The EB4 category is cap-subject, meaning that there are only a limited number of immigrant visa numbers in the EB4 category available for allotment each fiscal year. In order to file for an immigrant visa as an EB4 special immigrant, an individual must have the Form I-360, Petition for Ameraisan, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, filed on his or her behalf. The Form I-360 instructions contained detailed information on the requirements for status in the various special immigrant categories.
In this article, we will provide a brief overview of the various types of employment-based "special immigrants" who are eligible for EB4 Green Cards.
Special Immigrant Religious WorkersCertain foreign religious workers are eligible for EB4 classification under section 101(a)(27)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The EB4 visa application must have been a member of a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States for at least the two years preceding the application for admission into the United States. The alien must seek entry solely in order to carry on the vocation of a minister in the religious denomination. Furthermore, the alien must be entering to work in a full-time salaried position with the petitioning organization. Only 5,000 EB4 Green Cards for special immigrant religious workers may be allocated each year. The 5,000 cap does not apply to ministers.
Employees of the U.S. Government AbroadUnder section 101(a)(27)(D), certain employees or honorably retired employees of the U.S. Government abroad or of the American Institute in Taiwan may be eligible for EB4 classification. The principle beneficiaries spouse and children may also be eligible for EB4 classification. In order to qualify as an EB4 special immigrant, the employee must have served in his or her position for fifteen years or more. He or she must also have the recommendation of an officer of the Foreign Service establishment or of the Director of the American Institute of Taiwan, whichever is appropriate. Finally, the Secretary of State must approve the granting of status.
Panama Canal Zone Employees Before October 1, 1979Under section 101(a)(27)(E)-(G), an individual who was an employee of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government prior to October 1, 1979, and who was a resident in the Panama Canal Zone on April 1, 1979, and who performed faithful service as such an employee for one year or more may be eligible for EB4 classification.
Certain individuals who were employed by the U.S. Government in the Canal Zone and subsequently retired may also be eligible for EB4 classification. Such an individual must have served at least 15 years before October 1, 1979, performed 15 years or more of faithful service, and have been honorably retired from such employment or continues to work for the U.S. Government in the Canal Zone.
Finally, an individual who was an employee of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government before April 1, 1979, and who performed faithful service as an employee for five years or more may be eligible for EB4 classification. In such a case, it must be found that the individual's personal safety, or the personal safety of his or her spouse or children, was reasonably placed in danger because of the special nature of such employment.
PhysiciansUnder section 101(a)(27)(H) of the INA, certain physicians are eligible for EB4 Green Cards. The physician must have graduated from medical school or have qualified to practice medicine in a foreign state, have been fully and permanently licensed to practice medicine in a U.S. state by January 9, 1978, have entered the United States in H or J status before January 10, 1978, and have been continuously present in the United States in the practice or study of medicine since the date of such entry.
Long-Term International Organization Employees and FamilyUnder section 101(a)(27)(I) of the INA, certain long-term international organization employees and derivatives are eligible for EB4 classification.
The statute extends status to certain children of G4 employees who maintained nonimmigrants status in the United States for at least 7 years between the ages of 5 and 21, resided in the United States for at least one-half of those 7 years, and file for status before reaching the age of 25.
The surviving spouse of an officer or employee of an international organization who resided in the United States in G4 or N status for at least 15 years in the aggregate, have maintained G4 or N nonimmigrant status for at least one half of the 7 years preceding the filing of the petition, and filed the Form I-1360 within six months of the death of the spouse may be eligible for EB4 classification.
Certain retired G4 officers may be eligible for EB4 classification. Such an officer must have resided and been physically present in the United States for at least one-half of the seven years immediately prior to filing the petition for an immigrant visa, and must have been physically present in the United States for at least 15 years in the aggregate prior to retirement.
Finally, under section 101(a)(27)(L), a NATO-6 employee and his or her spouse may be treated similarly to G4 employees in very limited cases. In order for this to hold, the NATO-6 employee must be the member of a civilian component accompanying a force in accordance with the provisions of a NATO Status-of-Forces Agreement, or must be a NATO-6 employee of a civilian component attached to or employed by an Allied Headquarters under the "Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters."
Service in the Armed ServicesCertain persons who served honorably in active duty in the United States after October 15, 1978, and after original lawful enlistment outside the United States (under treaty or agreement in effect on October 1, 1991) may be eligible for EB4 classification. A person can either be eligible if he or she served for 12 years and if separated, was separated only under honorable conditions, or if he or she served 6 years, remains on active duty, and has reenlisted to incur a total active duty service obligation of at least 12 years. The spouse or child of such an applicant may apply to accompany or follow to join the principle, but only if the executive department under which the principle serves or serves recommends that the spouse or child be granted a visa as a special immigrant.
BroadcastersUnder section 101(a)(27)(M) of the INA, certain broadcasters may be eligible for EB4 classification. The broadcaster must seek to enter the United States to work as a broadcaster in the United States for the International Broadcaster Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or for a grantee of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The principle's spouse or children are also eligible for EB4 classification.
In general, this provision applies for reporters, writers, translators, editors, producers or announcers for U.S. news broadcasts, or for analysists or those who provide editorial coverage for such broadcasts.
Only 100 immigrant visas for EB4 special immigrant broadcasters may be allocated each fiscal year.
Afghan/Iraqi TranslatorsCertain Iraqi and Afghan translators who meet certain requirements are eligible for EB4 classification. Only 50 such visas may be allocated each fiscal year.
The program is available to Iraqi or Afghani national who worked directly with the U.S. Armed forces or Chief of Mission Authority for a period of 12 months during the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan respectively. Several recommendations are required for the translator to be eligible for EB4 classification. The spouse or children of such a translator are eligible for EB4 classification.
Afghan/Iraqi Nationals Who Provided Support to U.S. OperationsCertain Afghan and Iraqi nationals who provided faithful and valuable service to the United States for one year or more during the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts may be eligible for EB4 classification.
An Afghan national may be eligible if he or she was employed in Afghanistan for a period of at least two years between October 7, 2001, and December 31, 2016, by or on behalf of the U.S. Government, the International Security Assistance Force, or a successor mission that required the individual to serve as an interpreter or translator for U.S. military personnel or to perform sensitive and trusted activities for such personnel. The applicant must have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government, International Security Assistance Task Force, or a successor mission, and this must be documented in a letter of recommendation. Finally, the applicant must be experiencing ongoing and serious threats as a result of such employment.
An Iraqi national may be eligible if he or she was employed by or on behalf of the U.S. Government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003, but prior to September 30, 2013. Such employment must have been for at least one year or more. The applicant must have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government, and such service must be documented in a letter of recommendation from the applicant's supervisor. The applicant must be experiencing an ongoing and serious threat as a consequence of such employment. Applications for EB4 classification for Iraqi nationals are still being processed, but can no longer be accepted.
ConclusionThe EB4 preference category contains a variety of special immigrant categories by which one can qualify for a Green Card. Persons seeking immigrant status in the United States are well-advised to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for a full case evaluation.