If you are considering which United States immigrant visa might be right for you, understanding the wide variety of qualifications and categories can feel overwhelming. If you are a minister, religious worker, or are employed in another occupation that the United States classifies as a “special immigrant” job, an EB-4 visa may be your best choice for entry into the US.
Who Is Eligible For An EB-4 Visa?
The term “EB-4” visa stands for “employment based fourth preference,” which refers to how highly prioritized these visas are compared to other employment based options when being processed. In the case of EB-4s, those eligible to apply as fourth preference are workers in a “special immigrant” occupation. These jobs include religious workers, broadcasters such as translators, editors and reporters, those who served on active duty in the US armed forces, and employees of the US government abroad, such as at the American Institute in Taiwan or Panama Canal Zone employees. If you have an offer of work from a United States employer in one of these fields, you may be eligible for an EB-4.
How To Apply For An EB-4 Visa
Unlike some other types of visas to enter the United States, EB-4 visas cannot be filed by the applicant. Instead, the employer who is making an offer of work must file the petition on behalf of the beneficiary. This application begins with the Form I-360 and all the supporting documents that it requires. Because communicating with your employer throughout this process and working with employers to understand their requirements during an EB-4 petition process can be difficult, many applicants choose to work with a skilled immigration attorney who assists both sides in collecting information and compiling the petition.
What Are The Requirements?
Like any visa application for entry into the United States, EB-4s come with requirements that must be met prior to petition approval and visa issuance. Your petition must be submitted on your behalf by your employer and you must commit to working at that organization once you enter the United States. Additionally, your work for the organization that is petitioning for you must be for a full-time, salaried position.
The Processing Timeline
Once a petition for an EB-4 visa has been filed on your behalf, you will receive your priority date; this is the date assigned to you based on when your application was filed. When USCIS has completed its review of petitions with priority dates earlier than yours, your petition will be next for review.
Knowing this, it is possible to estimate how long your application will take based upon your priority date and USCIS’s current review date based on your country. It is important to be aware that not all countries are currently on their review date; if you are from a country with many applications, you may wait months or even years for your priority date to become current which is when USCIS moves forward through its backlog and reaches your priority date. Only 5,000 EB-4 green cards are issued each year, although this cap does not apply to ministers, reflecting the category’s lower priority than other employment based visas, such as EB-1s.
Benefits Of Hiring An Employment Law Attorney
Any visa that requires an employer to petition on behalf of an employee can become a complex matter very quickly. Employers are not often familiar with the steps they need to take, and their confusion is compounded by the need to remain in contact with the employee to acquire important documents and supporting evidence. For this reason, most applicants opt to work with a skilled employment law or immigration law attorney.
An attorney will streamline the application process by serving as a middleman, compiling the petition, and reaching out to both the employer and employee as needed. The attorney can guide the employer through the application process and ensure that all supplementary material has been collected, documents are filed on time, and proper application fees are paid. In addition, the lawyer will be the one responsible for drafting a compelling petition that fully demonstrates the applicant’s qualifications and offers strong reasons for approval, removing this burden from the other parties and improving the overall chances of success.
Reach Out To An Experienced Immigration Law Firm
If you are seeking an EB-4 visa or need guidance on which type of visa is right for you, reach out to an experienced immigration law attorney. The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to assist you in determining which category of visa is right for you, and we will serve as a middleman between you and your employer as you complete your EB-4 application. Get in touch to discuss your situation and work with us to achieve the best possible outcome.