EB-4 Visa: US Special Immigrant Visa

The U.S Immigration visa does not only cater to family and immediate relatives, it also grants visas to people who are certified to work in the U.S. The Employment Sponsored Visas would allow foreign employee/worker to work without an Employment Authorization Document, as long as they already have an employer that hired them to work and relocate to the U.S permanently.


There are 5 types of employment visas and each type is designated with the letter E:
  • EB1 Visa is the visa type for First Priority Workers. It is for highly capable people with extraordinary talent in arts, athletics, business or education, outstanding university professor or researchers and as well as executive or managers that are employed for 3 years in an overseas branch of a U.S company.
  • EB-2 Visa or Second Priority Workers Visa is for experts in their profession who hold an advanced degree or someone with exceptional abilities above the ordinary in the field of arts, business or sciences.
  • EB-3 Visa or Third Priority Workers Visa is another visa type catered for “skilled workers” who gained over 2 years of experience, professionals that possess a higher education degree than normal requirement and unskilled workers that have less than 2 years of experience (EW-3 Visa).
  • EB-4 Visa or Fourth Priority Workers Visa is for special immigrants working in different religious, government, or international organizations.
  • EB-5 Visa also called Fifth Priority Workers Visa is another visa type for venture capitalists who are willing to invest $500K to $1 million in the U.S.

Employment Sponsored Visas are only set to 140,000 visas annually and the total is allocated in the 5 visa types, thus processing may take time. Those who are interested in applying for Employment Sponsored Visas must take note that when the number of visas maxed out within the year, the remaining applications will be lined up for the succeeding years to come. U.S Visa applicants must observe the given priority dates to be able to pass immigration request.

The next section will further discuss the details, requirements, procedures and other significant particulars of the EB-4 visa.

What Is the EB-4 Visa?

The EB-4 Visa or Fourth Priority Workers Visa is for special immigrants. The following special immigrants are qualified for the fourth employment visa type:

  • Ordained Ministers or Religious workers (starting Dec 8, 2017, excluding ordained ministers, the applications from other religious workers are not acknowledged)
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles (children under 21 years old who suffered from abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a parent and pursuing to get permanent residency in the U.S)
  • Broadcasters
  • G-4 International Organization or NATO-6 Employees
  • International Employees of the U.S Government assigned overseas
  • Armed Forces Members
  • Certain Physicians
  • Panama Canal Zone Employees
  • Afghan and Iraqi Translators
  • Afghan and Iraqi Nationals who served to support U.S operations

The following groups of people mentioned above can have the opportunity to apply for an EB-4 visa if they can find permanent employment in the U.S,  based on their field of expertise/occupation.

Having an EB-4 visa will give you the following benefits such as having a permanent residency in the U.S, travel in and outside the U.S and be able to apply for jobs from different states after a few years.

The issuance of Employment Sponsored Visas is only limited to 140,000 visas annually. Only 7.1% of 140,000 visas are allocated for special immigrants (EB-4 visa). That is approximately 9,940 EB-4 visas per year. If the yearly limit is reached, the remaining applications are processed in the following years.

What Are the Requirements for the EB-4 Visa?

To acquire an EB-4 visa, the applicant must comply with some requirements. The following qualifications are needed:

  • A job offer that is valid and permanent given by a U.S employer (the job must not be a part-time or a seasonal job)
  • The job must fall within their occupation or field of expertise. Any job offers that are outside their expertise is restricted.

There are also requirements for the U.S employer who is eager to hire special immigrants for an EB-4 visa. A proof must be present that the U.S employer’s business is financially stable and be able to sustain and employ/sponsor a foreign worker. If the criteria mentioned is not met, the applicant is not allowed to apply for an EB-4 visa and the employer is not allowed to employ EB-4 visa applicants.

How to Apply for the Eb-4 Visa?

In applying for an EB-4 visa, both employer and foreign employee must undergo through a number of procedures. The EB-3 visa application is divided into two parts:

  • Necessary files such as a petition to the Immigration Services (USCIS) is needed to be processed by the U.S employer
  • Once approved, the foreign employee then proceeds to apply for an EB-4 visa at their home country’s U.S Embassy or Consulate

Filing the Petition

The U.S. employer must file a petition to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be able to employ a foreign worker. The U.S employer must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant to the USCIS. The employer must verify with USCIS that the company is financially stable with financial statements, audits, and tax returns as supporting documents.

However, there are certain situations that the foreign worker may self-petition but they must get in touch with USCIS first to make sure that they are allowed to do so.

On the other hand, if the EB-4 applicant is a broadcaster, the petition must be complied by the U.S Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) or a grantee of the BBG. The broadcaster applicant must be associated with any media employment and must not have a special or support role in the BBG.

USCIS will process the petition and inform the employer about their decision. Assuming that the petition is approved, the matter will be brought to the National Visa Center (NVC), but if it gets denied, the U.S company is not allowed to employ a foreign worker and the foreign employee cannot get an EB-4 visa.

When the approved petition reaches the NVC, a case number and invoice ID number are given. The case number and invoice ID number will be bundled with instructions and information on how to apply and will be mailed to the foreign employee’s home country. However, there is a limited number on EB-4 visa applications, the National Visa Center (NVC) will only dispatch the applicant’s documents when the priority date becomes current. When the applicant receives the package from NVC, the EB-4 visa application will start at their home country’s U.S Embassy or Consulate.

File Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent

Completion of an online form (DS-261 form) serves as the foreign worker’s initial application for the EB-4 visa. Then, the U.S Embassy or Consulate of their home country will process the form. Once the application is successfully submitted, the applicant must get a copy of the confirmation page and number. This will be required by the NVC upon submitting your supporting documents.

Complete Medical Examination and Vaccination

The applicant is required to get medical examinations and vaccinations that are indicated in the NVC package. The foreign worker must meet the U.S health requirements, if you lack vaccinations then you must have them. These medical documents are then required to be signed by a licensed doctor.

Compile the Supporting Documents File

The following supporting documents listed below are required. These are to be submitted after the NVC approves the Form DS-261.

  • A passport with validity of more than 6 months after planned flight to the U.S.
  • The employment offer from your U.S employer
  • An approved petition
  • The confirmation page of your Form DS-261
  • Medical and vaccine documents signed by the doctor
  • 2 photographs that conform with Photo Requirements
  • Diplomas and certificates to prove academic achievements
  • A copy of your resume or CV
  • Criminal and court records
  • Additional supporting documents may be required by the NVC depending on your situation

Attend the Visa Interview

After the NVC checks on your application and supporting documents, an interview will be scheduled at the U.S Embassy where you sent your application. In the interview, be clear and distinct in answering the questions about your background and your intentions to migrate in the U.S. The interviewer will carry out the final verdict if you will likely obtain an EB-4 visa or not.

Receive the NVC Package and Travel to the U.S

Once your application for EB-4 visa is approved, a package from NVC will be sent to you. This package must only be opened when you reach the U.S. You have to present this to the immigration officer at the U.S port of entry. The immigration officers are the only ones authorized to open the package and determine if you are granted access to the U.S or not.

What Are the EB-4 Visa Fees?

When applying for an EB-4 visa, both the employer and foreign employee are accountable for paying certain fees. The USCIS and the U.S Embassy where you want to send your application will determine the cost. Here are the following fees that you have to pay:

  • Filing fee for the USCIS Form I-360 petition (employer)
  • Processing fee for Form DS-261 (employee)
  • Medical examination fees (employee)
  • Fees incurred in getting support documents (employee)
  • Translation fees for interpreting foreign language to English (employee)

How Long Is the EB-4 Visa Processing Time?

The EB-4 visa processing might take a while, due to a limited number of employment-based visas allowed per year. It might take a few months to a year or even four years for your EB-4 visa to be processed. The earlier you apply, the faster your application might get processed.

How to get a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status?

After acquiring an EB-4 visa, your next move is to obtain Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status in the U.S. or also recognized as getting a Green Card. To replace your immigrant status to LPR, an approved petition from USCIS is needed. by filing up and processing this Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS. Once your application is approved, a mail will be sent to you within a few weeks containing the Green Card.

Can I Bring My Family to the U.S With an EB-4 Visa?

Yes. Once your EB-4 visa for special immigrants is approved and valid, you can include your spouse and children below 21 years old (single/unmarried) to accompany you in the U.S. Your spouse and children can apply with the same visa type that you applied for ( the EB-4 visa).

Given that they have successfully acquired their visas, your spouse can get a job in the U.S too by securing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).