Employment-based immigrant visas or EB visas allow you to work and live permanently in the United States. Since the number of applicants for these visas is significantly high, and the annual issuance also has a yearly cap, not all eligible people can receive their visas and have to wait a long time.
EB visa is divided into five categories, each of which is appropriate for a group of people. In other articles, we have explained other types of this visa. In this article, we intend to discuss the requirements for obtaining a US EB4 visa, the application process, processing time, costs, priority date, and so on.
What is an EB4 visa?
This visa is for a special group of immigrants. These immigrants are eligible for the fourth priority and receive this visa:
- Religious workers
- Special Immigrant Juveniles
- Broadcasters in the US
- G-4 International Organization or NATO-6 Employees
- Afghan and Iraqi Translators
- Certain Employees of the Panama Canal Zone
- Certain physicians
- Armed Force Members
- Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have provided valuable and faithful services in support of the US government
- International US government employees who are working abroad
Those listed are eligible for an EB4 visa, but must first find a permanent job offer in the United States. People who have expertise should find a job offer in their field of expertise (e.g., Broadcasters or Ministers of Religion).
Holders of this visa have the following benefits:
- Living and working in America
- Traveling in and out of America
- Change job position after a while
It should be noted, however, that there is an annual cap in the issuance of the employment-based immigration visa. Out of the140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are issued annually, only 7.1% is allocated to EB4 visas.
What are the requirements of the US EB4 visa?
If you are applying for an EB4 visa, you should consider the following:
- You need a permanent, full-time, non-seasonal offer. This job offer must be from a US employer.
- Applicants must have a job position in their area of expertise, and job offers outside their field of expertise are not eligible.
On the other hand, the US employer must be able to afford a foreign employee’s costs. In other words, the employer must prove his/her financial viability. Otherwise, he/she will not be eligible to hire a foreign worker.
How to apply for a US EB4 visa?
The application process for this visa is similar to other employment-based immigrant visas. This means that the employer must first apply for the necessary permit, then, if approved, the employee can start the visa application process in his/her own country.
1. Apply to the USCIS
The employer must first apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS for foreign employment. For this purpose, Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow (er), or Special Immigrant must be completed and submitted to the USCIS. Besides, the employer must prove his/her financial viability by providing the following documents:
- Tax returns
- Financial statements
- Audit documents
However, in some cases, foreign employees are allowed to self-petition. In this case, you must contact the USCIS to determine if you are allowed to do so.
Broadcasters applying for an EB4 visa must also petition through the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The broadcaster needs to be involved in the media. People who work as a support or technical team are not eligible.
USCIS reviews the evidence and announces the result. Confirmation of the petition indicates that the employer can hire a foreign worker. The file is then sent to the National Visa Center or NVC to assign a case number and invoice ID number. NVC will then send this information and instructions explaining the visa application process to the applicants in his/her home country. However, it should be noted that NVC will send this package if the applicant’s priority date is current. As you know, the annual issuance of EB4 visas is limited, and you will probably have to wait a while for your turn.
1. Completion and submission of Form DS-261
This form is on the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website, and you can access it by your case number. After completing the form, a confirmation page will appear that you must keep.
2. Perform medical examinations and vaccinations
You should visit an authenticated physician to do medical tests and take vaccines you do not have before. The physician will complete and sign the necessary forms for you.
3. Preparation of documents
When NVC approves your DS-261 form, you must submit the following documents:
- A valid passport
- A letter in which your job offer is described and written by the employer
- Documents showing USCIS approval
- Confirmation Page of DS-261 Form
- Your academic degrees and resume
- Criminal records
- Other documents that may be required depending on the case
4. Participate in the interview
All US visa applicants, both immigrant and nonimmigrant, must be interviewed during the visa application process. The interview will be conducted at the embassy, and the consular officer will ask questions about the purpose of your travel to the US and your job offer. If your documents are complete, NVC will schedule an interview appointment at the embassy for you, and you must be at the embassy on the due date.
5. Receive NVC package
After the interview, the consular officer will decide whether or not to grant a visa. If your visa application is approved, NVC will send you another package that you cannot open under any circumstances. When you come to the US, the immigration officers will open the package, and they will decide if you are authorized to enter the United States.
How much does it cost to apply for a US EB4 visa?
In the EB4 visa application process, the employer and the employee must pay a fee. But the cost varies, and USCIS decides in this regard. Therefore, the exact amount of costs to be paid cannot be estimated. In any case, the employer and the employee will be obliged to pay for the following services:
Expenses paid by the employer:
- File the Form I-360 petition to the USCIS
Expenses paid by the employee:
- Form DS-261 processing
- Perform medical examinations
- Get supporting documents
- Translation of documents into English
How long does it to assess the submitted documents and issue an EB4 visa?
As the annual issuance of employment-based immigrant visas, including the US EB4 visa, is limited, the processing time will also be slightly longer. Visas are issued based on the order list. The number of applicants for these visas is high, so it is quite evident that you may have to wait for years to receive your visa.
Can visa holders bring their family members to the United States?
Most EB4 visa holders can bring their family members to the United States. Note that family members only mean spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age.
Unlike EB4 visa holders who do not need an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work, their family members must obtain this certificate in order to work in the United States.
How can EB4 visa holders obtain their residency?
To obtain a US Green Card and Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), you must first submit your application to the USCIS. Therefore, you first need to complete the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and submit it to the USCIS. You will receive your Green Card after a few weeks when the form is processed and approved.
Let’s sum up …
In this article, we have reviewed all the issues related to the EB4 visa, including requirements, the application process, processing time, priority date, etc. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as how to immigrate to other countries.
In the comments section, you can share your suggestions, experiences, and questions with other readers and us. We will be responsive as soon as possible.