MERRILL R. COHEN is one of New York's new breed of savvy immigration lawyers.    New York Law Journal    Magazine.

Super Lawyers Distinction 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013 - Merrill Cohen

EB-4 : Special Immigrants

The fourth employment-based preference category permits religious workers to immigrate to the United States.



General Requirements and Qualifications

To qualify under this preference category, an individual must have been a member of a religious denomination for at least two years before applying for admission to the United States. They must be entering the United States to work:

  1. As a minister or priest of the religious denomination;
  2. In a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation for the religious organization (a professional capacity means that a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent is required to do this job); or
  3. In a religious vocation or occupation for the religious organization or its nonprofit affiliate. (A religious vocation means a calling or devotion to religious life. Taking vows can prove that you have a calling to religious life. A religious occupation is an activity devoted to traditional religious functions. Examples of religious occupations include (but are not limited to) cantors, missionaries, and religious instructors.)

A person must have been performing this religious work for the past two years. For more specific eligibility information, please see 8 CFR 204.5 .

Petition Document Requirements

A person or their employer must submit the appropriate forms to the USCIS.  The application must be filed at the USCIS Regional Service Center that serves the area where the individual will work. The applicant must also submit:

  1. Proof that the religious organization qualifies as a non-profit organization
  2. A letter from an official of the religious organization in the United States:
  3. The letter should establish that the person has been a member of the denomination for two years, and that the person has at least two years of experience in their religious vocation or occupation.
  4. If the person is a minister, the letter should establish that they have been authorized to perform religious duties in general and should specify which duties they are authorized to perform.
  5. If the person is a religious professional, the letter should establish that they have a United States baccalaureate degree or the foreign equivalent that is required for the religious profession. The person must also submit an official academic record.
  6. If the person is applying to work in the United States in another religious vocation or occupation, the letter should establish that they are qualified to work in that religious vocation or occupation. For instance, if the person is applying to work as a nun or a monk, they would need to provide evidence that they are a nun or a monk.
  7. If a person is applying to work in the United States in a non-ministerial or non-professional capacity for a religious organization affiliated with a religious denomination, the letter should establish how the religious organization is affiliated with the denomination.
  8. The letter should also detail how the person will be carrying on the work of a minister, or how they will be paid if they are working in a professional or other religious capacity.  The letter should indicate that the person will not be dependent upon supplementary income (from a second job) or charity (funds solicited for your support).

Contact Our Firm »