EB-4 Fourth Preference Religious Workers
The EB-4 category is for "special immigrants." Religious workers need to obtain permanent residence through employment. There is a limit of 5,000 visas available annually to religious workers. An EB-4 religious worker must be:
- A minister;
- A person working in a professional capacity in a religious occupation or vocation; or
- A person who works for a religious organization or an affiliate in a religious occupation who has been a member of the
religious group for at least the two years immediately preceding the application; and
- The individual must be coming to work for a bona fide tax exempt religious organization.
In addition, the applicant must also have worked for the religious organization for at least two years prior to making the application. The work may have been done in the U.S. or a foreign country.
A religious denomination is defined as a religious group that has some form of organized statement of faith, common belief system and similar ecclesiastical governing structure. The affiliated groups should have a common set of religious guidelines, perform their religious ceremonies in similar ways, use the same set of ministerial materials such as hymnbooks and worship guides, and have congregations.
A religious occupation is an activity relating to "traditional religious functions." This would include religious counselors, cantors, liturgical ministers and workers, religious hospital and health care workers, missionaries, religious translators and broadcasters. It would not include individuals who work for the denomination in a non-religious capacity.
It would also include anyone who is in a religious vocation, defined as someone called to religious life and service. This must be shown through demonstrated commitment to the denomination, the taking of vows and other types of life commitments. This would include nuns, monks, brothers, and deacons.
In order to be considered a qualifying religious organization, the religious worker must work for a "bona fide, nonprofit, religious organization" or a "bona fide organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination." A bona fide, nonprofit, religious organization is described in USCIS regulations as one that would be tax exempt under the Internal Revenue Code.