EB-4 VISA FOR RELIGIOUS WORKERS
The EB-4 Religious Workers classification allows individuals to obtain permanent residency working full-time in religious vocations and occupations in the United States.
A perfect example of an EB-4 Religious Workers application would be a church in Virginia looking to hire a minister who had been working under R-1 status for the past two years.
Our fee structure is unique to us as we strive to tailor our services for each client individually. We adapt price standards that are capable of fluctuating for each client depending on their unique needs. Clients may retain us for one or all of the above steps/services. Our base fee for a standard I-485 case is $7,000, not including government fees and third party expenses.
We are happy to customize a proposal for you during a consultation and walk you through what a standard EB-4 case looks like. Please see below for more information.
CASE PROCESSING OVERVIEW
Step 1: Strategy Session for EB-4 Religious Workers
This is the most crucial step for your entire EB-4. We will review all of the supporting documents to create a strategy, a customized checklist, and a timeline to serve as the guiding foundation for the entire case preparation.
Step 2: Prepare and Submit EB-4 to USCIS
Our attorneys will craft your EB-4 arguments and complete all forms, organize supporting documents, and assemble the crafted arguments into the proper application formats. After a thorough review, we will then submit the application to USCIS.
Step 3: Respond to Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)
In the event, USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), our attorneys will craft a response in a timely manner to fight for the approval of your EB-4 Religious Workers application.
Step 4: Prepare Client for Interview at the Consulate; or, Adjustment of Status with USCIS
It all comes down to this. We help guide the client in his/her preparation for the interview at a U.S. consulate by simulating the interview and ensuring the client is well-versed in the application material. Our services include a comprehensive strategy for answering inquiries posed, practice questions, thorough feedback, and other tools to help clients succeed during the interview.
Adjustment of Status
In the event the applicant is in the United States when USCIS approves the EB-4 application, our attorneys will prepare I-485 Adjustment of Status and organize all the necessary documents to submit to USCIS.
Step 5: Respond to Consulate Requests / Administrative Processing / Status Checks / Fraud Alerts; or USCIS Adjustment of Status Request for Evidence
After the interview, we will help formulate possible responses from the U.S. consulate, from additional document requests to revised applications, to fraud alerts. It is about keeping close tabs with the consulate processing.
Request for Evidence
In the event, USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (RFE) concerning I-485 Adjustment of Status, our attorneys will craft a response in a timely manner to fight for the approval of your I-485 application.
Step 6: Arrival is Only The Beginning
Our services do not end when you receive your EB-4 approval— this is only just the beginning. To help accommodate this reality, we provide guidance over:
- CBP – Airport Arrival
- Dependent Visas/Work Permits
- Reentry Permits
- and more!
Checklist of Required Evidence
Various supporting materials are required from both the religious organization and the alien.
From the Nonprofit Religious Organization
- Proof of tax-exempt status, typically with 501(c)(3) letters of verification
- Proof of salaried or unsalaried compensation
- This documentation may take the form of a budget, proof of past compensation for a similar position, evidence of room and board provided, or W-2s.
- Note that if room and board are provided as part of compensation, then documentation will need to demonstrate both the organization’s intent and ability to provide such.
- Attestation from authorized religious official, demonstrating or answering the following:
- That the religious organization is a bona fide nonprofit
- That the intending worker has been a member of the organization for at least two years
- That the intending worker will work full-time, i.e. no fewer than 35 hours per week
- That the intending worker will not engage in employment outside the religious organization
- Job description, job title, and details of salaried or unsalaried compensation
- The location of the job
- The number of members of the employer’s organization
- The number of employees at the job site
- The number of workers holding R-1 or special immigrant status employed by the organization over the five years prior to EB-4 filing
- The number of R-1 or special immigrant petitions filed by the organization over the five years prior to EB-4 filing
From the Alien Religious Worker
- Evidence of membership in the denomination indicated for at least two years prior to filing
- This may take the form of religious certificates, ordinations, letters of acceptance into the denomination, or transcripts showing courses and training completed in the organization.
- Evidence of the intending immigrant’s religious background
- This may take the form of certificates of ordination or letters memorializing status as a minister or related religious position.
- Evidence of having been employed full-time by the same religious denomination in a religious occupation for the two years preceding EB-4 filing
- If the position is unsalaried:
- Evidence as to why it is not salaried
- Evidence of alien’s financial ability to support him- or herself (e.g., bank statements)
The updated filing fee for EB-4 can be found here.
Eligibility for EB-4
- Applicant must be a member of this religious denomination for at least two years;
- Applicant must be a part of a qualifying religious organization, such that:
- The organization is a bona fide, nonprofit, religious organization that is exempt from taxation; or
- The organization is a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination that is exempt from taxation; and
- Applicant must have a qualifying religious occupation, such that:
- Occupation is an activity which relates to a traditional religious function;
- It is full-time employment;
- If within the two years the applicant worked for a different organization than the one petitioning, both organizations must share a common religious doctrine;
- They fall under the following categories:
- Ministers- people authorized by a recognized religious denomination to conduct religious worship and to perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion;
- Professional religious position- one for which the minimum requirement is a baccalaureate degree;
- Religious vocation- a calling to religious life evidenced by the demonstration of commitment practiced in the religious denomination, such as the taking of vows.
- Applicant’s work must not be volunteer work;
- Applicant’s work must not be sporadically paid work.
8 CFR §204.5(m)
8 CFR §204.5(m) governs classification of an alien as a special immigrant religious worker as defined in section 101(a)(27)(C) and 203(b)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. To be eligible for classification as a special immigrant religious worker, the alien must:
- Be a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately preceding the time of application for admission.
- Be coming to the United States to work at least in a full-time position (average of at least 35 hours per week);
- Be coming solely as a minister of that religious denomination
- A religious vocation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity; or
- A religious occupation either in a professor or nonprofessional capacity.
- Be coming to work for a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States.
- Have been working in the position continuously for at least the two-year period immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
8 CFR 204.5(m)
(m) Religious workers. This paragraph governs classification of an alien as a special immigrant religious worker as defined in section 101(a)(27)(C) of the Act and under section 203(b)(4) of the Act. To be eligible for classification as a special immigrant religious worker, the alien (either abroad or in the United States) must:
Section 101(a)(27)(C) of Immigration and Nationality Act
(C) an immigrant, and the immigrant’s spouse and children if accompanying or following to join the immigrant, who-
(i) for at least 2 years immediately preceding the time of application for admission, has been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the United States;
(ii) seeks to enter the United States-
(I) solely for the purpose of carrying on the vocation of a minister of that religious denomination,
(II) before September 30, 2015, in order to work for the organization at the request of the organization in a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation, or
(III) before September 30, 2015, in order to work for the organization (or for a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination and is exempt from taxation as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of title 26) at the request of the organization in a religious vocation or occupation; and
(iii) has been carrying on such vocation, professional work, or other work continuously for at least the 2-year period described in clause (i);
Section 203(b)(4) of Immigration and Nationality Act
(4) Certain special immigrants
Visas shall be made available, in a number not to exceed 7.1 percent of such worldwide level, to qualified special immigrants described in section 1101(a)(27) of this title (other than those described in subparagraph (A) or (B) thereof), of which not more than 5,000 may be made available in any fiscal year to special immigrants described in subclause (II) or (III) of section 1101(a)(27)(C)(ii) of this title, and not more than 100 may be made available in any fiscal year to special immigrants, excluding spouses and children, who are described in section 1101(a)(27)(M) of this title.
SAMPLE & TEMPLATES
Attorney Brief: [coming soon] We will provide an attorney brief sample for the I-140 petition.
Cover Letter: [coming soon] We will also provide a cover letter sample for the I-140 petition.
Sample Request for Evidence: [coming soon] Requests for evidence can be used to strengthen the case.
Sample Checklist: [coming soon] We look at the client’s unique situation and create customized checklists to strengthen their cases.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I self-petition under EB-4?
Yes, a religious worker can either self-petition or be the beneficiary of a petition sponsored by the religious institution
Are there visa caps on EB-4?
There is no visa cap for workers who fall under the ministerial role, but all other religious workers (e.g., nuns) are subject to a 5,000 annual visa cap
EB-4 v. R-1
Most individuals who seek permanent resident status through an EB-4 visa have been or are currently in R-1 status in the U.S. Given the overlap between the EB-4 category for religious workers and the R-1 category, it’s worthwhile to delve into the clear similarities and crucial differences between the two visa types, as indicated in 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(m).
How long must I work to qualify for EB-4?
A religious worker must have been employed for two continuous years in a full-time, compensated religious capacity in the denomination specified in the application
SCHEDULE A SESSION
Call or email us to set up your 1-hour consultation. Easily pay the $250 consultation fee over the phone or through our email link. If you would like to have a quick chat with our team before setting up the consultation, feel free to use the calendar on the right to book your 10 minute call.