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Religious Worker Immigrant Visa (EB4)

To be eligible for lawful permanent residence as a religious worker, you must be a religious worker who for the past two years has been a member of a religious denomination which has a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the United States; and who has been carrying on the vocation, professional work, or other work described below, continuously for the past two years; and seeks to enter the U.S. to work solely:

  • As a minister or priest of that denomination; or
  • In a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation for that organization; or
  • In a religious vocation or occupation for the organization or its nonprofit affiliate.
Petition Document Requirements
An immigrant (also called a "lawful permanent resident") is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. You must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant. First, the Immigration & Naturalization Service (CIS) must approve an immigrant visa petition for you. Second, the State Department must give you an immigrant visa number, even if you are already in the United States. Third, if you are already in the United States, you may apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa number becomes available. If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you will be notified to go to the local U.S. Consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.

Step 1

You or your employer can file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant, with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (CIS). The application must be filed at the CIS Service Center that serves the area where you will work.

The I-360 petition must be accompanied by:

  • Evidence establishing that the religious organization, and any affiliate which will employ the person, is a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the U.S. and is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
  • A letter from an official of the religious organization in the United States establishing that you are eligible as listed above:

    • The letter should establish that you have been a member of the denomination for two years, and that you have at least two years of experience in your religious vocation or occupation (explaining, in detail, your religious work and all employment during the past two years).
    • The letter should detail your proposed employment.
    • If you are a minister, the letter should establish that you have been authorized to perform religious duties in general and should specify which duties you are authorized to perform.
    • If you are a religious professional, the letter should establish that you have a United States baccalaureate degree or the foreign equivalent that is required for your religious profession. You must also submit an official academic record.
    • If you are applying to work in the United States in another religious vocation or occupation, the letter should establish that you are qualified to work in that religious vocation or occupation. For instance, if you are applying to work as a nun or a monk, you need to provide evidence that you are a nun or a monk.
    • If you are 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.
    • The letter should also detail how you will be carrying on the work of a minister, or how you will be paid if you are working in a professional or other religious capacity. The letter should indicate that you will not be dependent upon supplementary income (from a second job) or charity (funds solicited for your support).
Step 2
When immigrant visa petition is approved, you must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the preference system (your visa is a fourth preference, employment-based visa). Because the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available each year is limited, you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately after the immigrant visa petition is approved. However, for the last several years the fourth preference category has been current, i.e. visa numbers are immediately available upon approval of the immigrant visa petition.

Step 3

Once a visa number is available you may apply for adjustment of status (see Adjustment of Status on our Main Menu) or go to the local U.S. Consulate to complete processing of your immigrant visa.


Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may accompany you in derivative immigration status. This means that they are given immigrant visas dependent on your immigrant status.

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