EB-4: Green Cards for Religious Workers & Special Immigrants
To qualify as a special immigrant religious worker in the Employment Based 4th Preference category, 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 time, compensated position in one of the following occupations:
• Solely as a minister of that religious denomination;
• A religious vocation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity;
• A religious occupation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity; or
• A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States.
3) Be coming to work for either:
• A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States; or
• 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:
• The foreign national was still employed as a religious worker;
• The break did not exceed two years; and
• 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 two years of qualifying employment.
Full time work means an average of 35 hours per week. Compensated may mean salaried or unsalaried.
When a church is petitioning for this status for one of its members, it must have first received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS.