EB4 Visa Category - Special Immigrant Category

EB4 Visa Category - Special Immigrant Category

This preference category focuses on Special Immigrants. Special Immigrants, eligible under the EB-4 visa are:

1. Physicians (International Medical Graduates);
2. Religious Workers;
3. International Organization Employees;
4. Armed Forces Members;
5. Broadcasters;
6. Iraqi/Afghan Translators;
7. Iraqis who have assisted the United States;
8. Panama Canal Zone;
9. Retired NATO-6 Employees;
10. Spouses and Children of Deceased NATO-6 Employees

Filing as a Special Immigrant requires submission of Form I-360. This form should be submitted by an employer, although special immigrants may self-petition-file without an employer.

Entering the U.S. as a returning resident

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) that return from temporary trips overseas can be classified as returning residents. Proof of Permanent Residence needs to be presented in order to gain entry into the United States. This proof should be a valid Form I-551 — more commonly referred to as a Green Card. If a returning resident does not hold a valid I-551, they should apply for special immigrant returning resident status at the U.S. Consulate. This application is done by completing Form DS-117 along with supporting documentation of his/her lawful permanent residence status. An interview follows in order to determine if the application is approved or denied.

C-1- A Commuter Permanent Resident Card is also available for applicants who live in either Canada or Mexico and commutes to the United States for employment purposes. Resident status is maintained by avoiding a 6 month continuous period of unemployment or working a minimum of ninety (90) days the in the prior year. The LPR should file Form I-90. Derivatives are allowed to enter the U.S. along with the LPR once the applicant takes up residence in the U.S.

Reacquiring Citizenship

A person that is reacquiring U.S. Citizenship may be eligible to apply for an EB-4 visa. This application is deemed as a reacquisition.


Physicians who graduated from foreign colleges, also known as International Medical Graduates (IMG) that entered the U.S. on an H or J visa may also be eligible for the Fourth Preference Visa Category. The International Medical Graduate is required to have entered the U.S. on or after January 1st, 1978 and should still be practicing medicine. There is no requirement to take a visa-qualifying exam.

Religious Workers

As a religious worker, an applicant may file for a visa under the EB-4 category. To be eligible for this visa as a religious worker, the beneficiary should:

1. Belong to or be a member of a legitimate religious denomination in the United States for a minimum of two (2) years prior to filing the petition;
2. Have intentions on entering the U.S. to work full-time in a salaried position;
3. Exclusively work as a minister or will work in a religious vocation or occupation;
4. Work in a legitimate, nonprofit religious organization, or its affiliate in the U.S.;
5. Have been working in a religious occupation overseas or, if in the U.S., in valid status for the two (2) year period immediately before filing of the petition.

For more detailed information, see religious workers.

International Organization Employees

An employee of the U.S. Government that works overseas may also be classified as a special immigrant and qualify for an EB-4 visa. The applicant should have the Principal Office of Foreign Service describe the extraordinary circumstances as to why he/she deserves this visa. The Secretary of State is also required to approve this grant of status. After approval from the Secretary of State, the I-360 Petition should be filed within one year. However, 15 years of employment overseas is required for this visa. These 15 years of employment need not be with the same U.S. government agency.

Armed Forces Members

A retired member of the Armed Forces may apply for EB-4 visa if they served honorably on active duty for twelve (12) years. Service of 6 years may be allowed if the beneficiary has enlisted for an additional six (6) years. This service should have occurred after October 15, 1978 and enlistment should have been lawful and happened outside the United States and as part of a treaty which was active on the date the law was enacted.


Broadcasters that enter the U.S. in order to work for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) or an affiliated grantee are eligible for the fourth preference employment-based visa category. As a broadcaster, the petitioner should be filed by the BBG. To be classified as a broadcaster, the beneficiary of the petition should be:

1. Reporter;
2. Writer;
3. Translator;
4. Editor;
5. Producer or Announcer for news broadcasts

If not in one of these categories, the beneficiary can provide news analysis, editorial coverage or other broadcasting features. This category, however, does not apply to technical or support services. Up to 100 Broadcaster visas are available per fiscal year.

Form I-360 should be filed by the petitioner along with the specific information regarding the job title and job description, a description of the experience and amount of time in broadcasting and how this qualifies the beneficiary for the listed job.

Iraq/Afghan Translators

A person who worked as a translator with or for the U.S. Armed Forces or under the authority of the Chief of Mission (COM) in Afghanistan or Iraq may be eligible for a special immigrant visa. To apply for this visa, Form I-360 should be filed along with supporting identification documents.

Iraqis Who Assisted the U.S.

An alien may be eligible for a visa under the fourth preference category if he or she is a national or citizen of Iraq and assisted the U.S. on or after March 20, 2003. Eligibility requirements are:

1. Someone who was employed by the U.S. or on behalf of the U.S., in Iraq for a period of one (1) year or more;
2. This person should have provided service considered to be faithful and valuable to the U.S. and should be documented and approved by the Chief of Mission (COM);
3. This person should have experiences some sort of danger or threat as a direct result of being employed by the U.S.;
4. Is not ineligible for an immigrant visa to the U.S. on any separate grounds; and
5. Will not be a public charge if admissible to the U.S.

Applying under this category for an EB-4 visa requires filing Form I-360. This petition should be submitted along with the applicant's identification document such as a valid passport, national identification card or birth certificate. A positive recommendation (as referenced above) should also be submitted and confirming that the beneficiary has worked a minimum of one year for the U.S. along with a Risk Assessment. The Risk Assessment should be conducted by the Chief of Mission and it should outline the danger or threat that the beneficiary faced or is facing. An independent review of the beneficiary's employment should be conducted by the Chief of Mission and it should be submitted along with the beneficiary's I-94 Departure Record, if applicable, and all previously mentioned supporting documentation. Spouses and children may be derivatives of the beneficiary's petition. This Petition can lead to Adjustment of Status as long as the beneficiary is admissible and not disqualified for adjustment of status. Finally, if denied, this petition may be appealed before the Administrative Appeals Office.

Panama Canal Treaty Employees

An alien who is or has been an employee of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government prior to date which Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 took effect may be eligible for EB-4 visa. The spouse and children of the beneficiary may also be derivatives of the visa.

NATO Employees

This category is for civilian employees of NATO-6. The spouses and children are also eligible as derivatives, as well as family of deceased NATO employee.