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EB-4 Fourth Preference—Religious Worker

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Table Of Contents

    Basic Requirements:

    The employment-based fourth preference, or EB-4, visa, encompasses special religious workers. Applicant eligibility for this visa/status are considered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS). Ministers and individuals in other religious occupations or vocations may apply to enter the United States with an R Visa/status (EB-4). An EB-4 visa applicant must intend to pursue full time compensated religious work. US CIS requires 35 hours of work per week of salaried or unsalaried work to meet these standards. Individuals intending to enter the U.S. on an EB-4 visa to work as ministers are not limited by any cap.

    It should be noted, however, that non-ministers may not be able to receive an R Visa. The law authorizing non-ministers to gain this designation periodically sunsets, meaning that designations cease when a certain number has been met. Only 5,000 non-minister religious immigrants are allowed to enter on an EB-4 visa each year. As such, there are very specific guidelines as to who qualifies as a minister; to be considered a minister, an individual must be authorized by a recognized denomination to lead religious worship and to perform any other duty normally performed by clergy members. Accordingly, the US CIS will not recognize a lay preacher as a minister.

    Religious occupation is understood to be habitual engagement in some activity that directly relates to traditional religious function by the US CIS—for example, liturgical workers, religious counselors, and religious instructors. Religious vocation, on the other hand, is considered to be a calling to religious life that is supported by a lifelong commitment to a recognized domination—for example, religious brothers and sisters, monks, and nuns. To qualify as an immigrant with the special EB-4 religious worker status, foreign nationals must be either a minister in a nonprofit religious denomination within the U.S. or a worker with a valid religious occupation or vocation.

    Additionally, to qualify for the R Visa (EB-4), religious workers must have been a member of the same religious denomination continuously for the last two years, though previous religious work does not have to resemble the proposed work following approval. The applicant’s previous work does not have to be completely continuous as long as any breaks lasted less than two years, the applicant was still employed as a religious worker, or if the break was taken to complete further religious training. When a church is petitioning for this status for one of its members, it must have first received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS. Applicants to the EB-4 visa must provide a letter from the nonprofit religious organization in the U.S. stating confirmation of the applicant’s past two or more years of service, proof of the applicant’s religious training, and authorization of the applicant’s ability to perform religious duties.

    Family Members:

    As derivatives of the main beneficiary, children (when unmarried and under the age of 21) and spouses are eligible to obtain green cards when accompanying the main beneficiary of the EB-4 status.


    When filing in the United States at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) (please read the disclaimer page), the Austin-based immigration lawyers at the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC, typically charge the following in attorney’s fees and filing fees as currently charged by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (US CIS):

    Step 1—Permanent Residency Petition:

    • $5,000 attorney’s fees
    • $435 USCIS filing fee for Employment Petition

    Step 2—Adjustment of Status (if already in the U.S.):

    • $2,500 attorney’s fees for the principal beneficiary
    • $1,500 attorney’s fees for each family member
    • $1,225 USCIS fee each person, (or $750 for each person under the age of 14)

    Consular Processing (if outside of the U.S.):

    • $4,000 attorney’s fees for the principal beneficiary
    • $1,500 attorney’s fees for each family member
    • $120 AOS Processing Fee
    • $325 Consular Processing fee per person
    • $220 Permanent Resident Card

    Documents Needed to Get Started:

    If you think you may be eligible to apply for an EB-4 Visa for religious workers, the next step is to schedule a consultation with an attorney at William Jang. Our staff of highly trained and experienced lawyers is ready to walk you through each step of the visa process and guide you through the complexities of religious immigration.

    Below you will find two documents. The first is an informational record that must be filled out without error and in its entirety concerning personal and family information. It also contains a helpful checklist of documents you and your church will need to provide to the US CIS.

    The second document is a sample retainer agreement form or an agreement between our clients and the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC that we collect in order to provide our legal services.

    Documents / Information for EB-4 Religious Workers

    Sample Retainer Agreement

    Why you need a lawyer

    Many individuals complete their immigration without hiring a lawyer. However, obtaining an EB-4 visa is a complex and often stressful process. A lawyer can counsel you through each obstacle and help you to understand whether you are eligible based on your status.

    Even after filing all documents and submitting all fees, many people find that something as small as a technical error can be a huge setback. A lawyer’s guidance can save you time and money, and lets you rest assured throughout the entirety of a long process.

    If you’re considering an EB-4 visa, a quick consultation with a lawyer can mean the difference between being approved to enter the U.S. and making an accidental mistake that constitutes as a fraud. Mention this website and a 30-minute consultation at the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC will be discounted to $50 as a limited time offer.

    Experience: Why choose us

    At the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC, our experienced, Austin-based immigration lawyers are prepared to assist any client who wishes to obtain an EB-4 Forth Preference Permanent Residency (Green Card) as a religious worker. With more than a decade of experience between our attorneys, we understand the complex and delicate nature of immigration law. Our staff treats each case with the care, attention, and knowledge of the law that our clients deserve, and value open and honest communication with our clients, so you can make the informed decisions that are right for you.

    William Jang attorneys know every deadline, document, and qualification you need to be eligible to immigrate to the U.S. We get to know each of our clients’ stories in order to best help them obtain legal residence in the most efficient and effective way possible.

    The EB-4 visa is particularly complicated, and eligibility depends on personal and religious information as well as a number of factors. Let the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC assist you in what we do best: making your immigration to the U.S. as smooth as possible. Our team is confident in our ability to help you obtain an EB-4 or other relevant visas.

    Schedule a consultation today, use our helpful live chat, or contact us at (512) 323-2333.

    Don’t wait until it’s too late!  Contact us today at 512-323-2333