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The EB4 visa is for all immigrants who have been members of a non-profit religious denomination in the United States for at least two years, based on the law. It falls under the employment green card category in the country. This category allows different foreign nationals to settle down and work in the country. Let us learn more about the EB4 visa, its requirements, and other relevant details below.
Steps to Apply for the EB4 Visa
The EB4 visa category is designed for special immigrants, including religious workers, certain international broadcasters, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired NATO-6 employees, and others. The process for an EB4 visa interview involves several steps. Here is what to expect during the application process in the United States:
- Determine Eligibility. The authorities must establish if the person qualifies for the EB4 visa category. Each type of special immigrant under the EB4 category has specific eligibility criteria, which must be met.
- File a Petition. A Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, must be filed by an employer or organization on the applicant's behalf in most cases. The religious organization sponsoring the person would submit the petition if anyone is a religious worker.
- Wait for the USCIS Approval. The Form I-360 petition must receive approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services after the petition. The applicant will receive a Notice of Approval upon confirmation.
- Check Visa Number Availability. Visa numbers are available immediately for most EB4 applicants. However, some categories may have visa number limitations, which require the person to wait for numbers to become available.
- Choose the Required Status. The applicants can choose between consular processing and adjustment of status, which depends on the circumstances. Consular processing involves attending an interview at an embassy or consulate in the home country. Moreover, the adjustment of status is conducted within the U.S. if the specific applicants are eligible.
- File the Visa Application. People who decide on consular processing must apply for an immigrant visa at the embassy or consulate in their home country. This involves all kinds of necessary forms, documents, and fees.
- Undergo Medical Examination. A person is often required to undergo a medical examination. They must also provide any requested background information and documentation as part of the visa application process.
- Attend the Visa Interview. A visa interview at the embassy or consulate will be scheduled. A consular officer will review the application during the interview, inquire about the eligibility, and assess the qualifications for the EB4 visa.
- Confirm Visa Approval or Denial. The applicant will receive an immigrant visa in the passport if the visa application is approved. This finally permits travel to the United States. The same person will be given the reason for the rejection in case of a denial.
Eligibility for the EB4 Visa
The EB4 visa is open to people from different religious categories. However, these people must also fulfill some prerequisites to get the document, as mentioned below:
- Applicants worked in a non-profit religious organization for around two years
- Unmarried juveniles under 21 years are currently staying in the United States
- Foreign journalists who are members of the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM)
- Retired international officers, civilian employees, and their families from G-4 and NATO-6
- Foreign-based federal employees and their families from the U.S.
- Employees belonging to the Panama Canal Zone
- Licensed physicians and medics in the United States as of January 9, 1978
- Iraqi or Afghan translators for the military
- Iraqis who worked for the American government for at least one year
- Afghans who worked for the United States
Application Fees for the EB4 Visa
The first thing that an applicant must do after receiving the informational packet for an EB4 visa is to pay the application fees. Their payment status must show as 'paid' on the CEAC website before they do anything else. However, the EB4 visa fees are not fixed. So, here is a look at the general expenses associated with it:
- USCIS Form I-360 petition filing fee (if self-petitioning): $435
- Biometrics fee (if required): $85
- USCIS Immigrant fee: $220
Documents Required for the EB4 Visa
Several supporting documents are needed to support a person's EB4 visa application. They can also talk to the immigrant lawyers to learn more about the specific documents that apply to the case. Generally, here are some documents that they must provide for the visa:
- A valid international passport
- A job offer from an employer in the U.S., if applicable
- Form I-360
- Two 2×2 passport photos as per the visa standards of the country
- Medical Exam proof form
- Vaccination Proof
- Criminal records, if any
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate, if applying with the spouse
Limitations of the EB4 Visa
The EB4 visa offers several benefits to its respective holders. However, the visa also has its limitations, as mentioned below:
- Having Numerical Limits: The annual numerical limit on the number of EB-4 visas available is always limited. This means that there are only a certain number of visas issued each fiscal year. So, this cap can result in lengthy waiting times for applicants from countries with high demand.
- Holding Eligibility Criteria: Individuals must fit into specific categories of special immigrants to qualify for an EB-4 visa. They can be religious workers, broadcasters, and certain employees of international organizations. This means that not everyone is eligible for this visa, which limits its accessibility.
- Challenging Application Process: The EB-4 application process can be complex and may require extensive documentation and evidence to demonstrate eligibility. It can be challenging for applicants as well as sponsoring organizations.
- Possessing Country-Specific Limitations: Applicants from certain countries may sometimes face longer wait times due to country-specific limitations. The same can further delay the immigration process.
- Owning Temporary Status: Some individuals who initially come to the U.S. as EB-4 visa holders may only have temporary or conditional status. For example, religious workers may receive a two-year conditional green card, which can pose challenges regarding stability and security.
- Getting Subjected to Uncertain Future: The EB-4 visa category has been subject to changes in U.S. immigration policy, and the availability of visas may fluctuate depending on government decisions and priorities. This can lead to uncertainty for applicants.
- Inapplicability to Immigrants: The EB-4 visa is a niche category. So, it is not designed for most employment-based immigrants. Most employment-based immigrants fall under other categories, such as EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3, with different requirements and processes.
Key Terms for EB4 Visas
- Special Immigrant: Individuals eligible for the EB4 visa category, often with unique qualifications, such as religious workers or international broadcasters.
- USCIS Approval: The formal authorization by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for an individual's EB4 visa petition.
- Consular Processing: The method of getting an EB4 visa is by attending an interview at an embassy as well as a consulate in the applicant's home country.
- Adjustment of Status: The process of applying for an EB4 visa from within the United States, typically if the applicant is already present in the country and eligible.
- Visa Bulletin: A monthly publication by the U.S. Department of State that indicates visa number availability, especially important for EB4 applicants due to numerical limitations.
Final Thoughts on EB4 Visas
The EB4 visa is specially designed for special immigrants. It allows individuals with unique qualifications to pursue permanent residency in the United States. They can be religious workers, international broadcasters, and employees of foreign service posts. The requirements and application processes may differ for each special immigrant category. However, the EB4 visa presents an opportunity to establish a lasting presence in the U.S. Prospective applicants should understand the eligibility criteria and choose between consular processing or adjustment of status to complete the entire visa application process. They can also seek help from immigration lawyers to complete the same.
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