- What is the EB4 visa?
- Who can qualify as a special immigrant?
- What documents are needed for an EB4 visa?
- Documents required for special immigrant juveniles
- Documents required for religious workers
- How to apply for the EB4 employment Visa
- The petition stage
- The application stage
- The visa interview
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the EB4 visa?
The EB4 Visa is the fourth priority workers visa that allows Canadian immigrants to move to the US permanently. This visa allows ‘special immigrants’ to move to the US for employment purposes. Once you have the EB4 visa, you will have permanent resident status. Within this status, you will be able to travel, live, work, and/or study in the US under the benefits and privileges associated with having a US green card.
An EB4 Visa allows a Canadian worker to apply for US citizenship after having lived in the United States for five years. This may be the right route for you to take if you wish to move yourself and your family and settle permanently in the United States. If you are already in the US, you may be able to adjust your status from a non-immigrant status to an EB4 Visa.
Who can qualify as a special immigrant?
Special immigrants are Canadians that can qualify for a green card after meeting certain requirements that may include the following:
- Special immigrant religious workers that are ministers, or non-ministers within a religious vocation or occupation within a religious organization
- Special immigrant juveniles, who are unmarried people under the age of 21 residing in the US and are dependents of the juvenile court system due to either abuse, abandonment, or neglect whilst on US grounds.
- Foreign nationals coming to work in the US as broadcasters for the United States Agency for Global Media, or a grantee
US Armed Forces members
- Certain employees of the US government that are currently abroad, as well as their immediate family
- Certain retired officers or employees of NATO, OAS, IADB, IADC, IMF, World Bank, INTELSAT, or ITSO and their immediate family members
- Foreign nationals who are employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone government
- Physicians who are licensed to practice medicine in a US state before January 9, 1978, and are practicing medicine in a state on that date with either a J Visa or an H Visa
- Afghani and Iraqi translators or interpreters, who have worked with the US Armed Forces or Embassy, and were paroled or admitted originally as non-immigrants into the US
- Certain Iraqi nationals who were employed on behalf of the US government, or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
What documents are needed for an EB4 visa?
Regardless of which subcategory you will be applying for your EB4 Visa, you will need to provide the supporting documents:
- A passport that is valid for more than six months after you depart from Canada and arrive in the US
- Approved petition form I-360
- 2 photographs that meet the US visa photograph standards
- Proof of medical examination and vaccination records
- Copies of any court or criminal records
- Birth and marriage certificates, if you are applying for your family to move with you
Documents required for special immigrant juveniles
A special immigrant juvenile will need to supply a copy of their birth certificate or another form of evidence that proves their age. They must also provide a copy of court or administrative documents that establish the juvenile eligibility including the specific findings of the case.
If the juvenile is in the custody of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the court order has altered the juvenile custody status or placement, the application must also include written consent from the HHS.
Documents required for religious workers
The required documents for religious workers attempting to enter the US on an EB4 visa include the following:
- A valid determination letter from the IRS that establishes that the religious organization is a tax-exempt organization
- Evidence of the religious nature and purpose of said organization
- An employer attestation and a completed certification signed and dated by an authorized official of the petitioner
- Substantial evidence of how the employer intends to compensate the applicant, for both salaried and non-salaried compensation
- Potential evidence that the beneficiary has been working after having turned 14 in a religious position in Canada, for at least two years before the petition
- Evidence of the beneficiary’s qualification to perform the duties of the proposed job whilst in the US
Because there are so many categories that fall under the EB4 Visa, it would be best to contact our professional immigration lawyers to find out the exact documents that you will need, as well as any other criteria that you must meet for whichever EB4 Visa you choose that applies to you and your personal circumstances.
How to apply for the EB4 employment Visa
To apply for an EB4 Visa, you can either self-petition, or your US-based employer can submit a petition on your behalf. Please note that not every beneficiary can self-petition; spouses, children, or abusive parents in the US will have restrictions.
With the exception of juveniles, EB4 applicants must have a valid and permanent job offer from a US-based employer within their field of expertise. The employer is to file the petition and must be able to prove that they can continuously afford to pay and financially support you. There are three steps to applying for the EB4 visa, which are as follows:
- The petition stage
- The application stage
- The visa interview
The petition stage
At the beginning of your application process, your US employer must submit a petition for approval from the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). The employer must file form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant) for you to receive the approval.
When submitting this form, they must include supporting documentation to prove the eligibility to hire and support you. These documents may include tax returns, financial statements, and proof of employment offer. The subcategory that you fall into will determine the other documents of the petition that is required to submit when filing the petition.
If the petition is approved, it will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). You will then receive a welcome notice about the approved petition from the NVC, which will contain the case number, ID number, invoice ID number, and instructions on what to do next.
The application stage
Once you have received a welcome letter from the NVC, you will be able to proceed to the next stage of the EB4 Visa application process. This is when you will be able to apply for the green card through Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application) and Form DS-261 (Online Choice of Address and Agent).
The DS-261 is a form that will inform the Department of State as to how to communicate with you during the application process. Once the form has been processed, the invoices for the attached fees will become available at the NVC’s Consular Electronic Application Center.
Once the payment for the DS-261 has been processed, you will be able to file the online Form DS-260. Once you have submitted this form, you will get a confirmation page which you should print, as you will be adding this to your supporting documents and taking it with you to your visa interview. You should do the same with your receipt for your application fees.
The visa interview
The visa interview is the final step in the EB4 Visa application process. This interview should occur at the US Embassy in Canada unless you are already in the US, where you will be interviewed at your local USCIS office instead.
The immigration officer hosting your interview will swear you in, and then ask questions at their discretion based on the information you provided during the application. The interview is to establish your eligibility and confirm your reasons for immigrating to the US. If you have dependents that will be moving to the US with you, they will be able to attend this visa interview as well, unless it is a child under the age of 14.
If the immigration officer is satisfied with your responses and documentation, they may approve your visa application on the spot. If this is the case, you will be provided with a sealed packet which you must not open at any stage and should be provided to the immigration control at the point of entry when you arrive in the US.
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There may be various fees to pay at each step of the process, and the amounts are updated via the USCIS, State Department, and the US Embassy in Canada.
When filing your Form I-360, the petitioner will need to pay $435, unless they are filing under a category not subject to the fees, such as the juvenile category.
You will be responsible for paying the State Department application processing fee of $325, and the financial support form fee of $120 when filing form DS-261. You may need to allow extra costs as well if you need to provide biometrics, proof of vaccinations, and medical examinations.
The processing time of any visa will vary depending on which country you are applying from, and whether or not there is a USCIS backlog of visa applications. The EB4 Visa processing time will also depend on the time it takes for your priority spot to become available in the Visa Bulletin. Because it is a capped visa, the process can end up taking several years from beginning to end, so you should not go into it expecting instantaneous results.