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EB-4 religious worker immigrant visas

Residents of other countries who wish to come to Florida in order to work as either a minister or as a religious worker for an affiliated 501(c)(3) nonprofit religious charity may be eligible for a special class of work visa. The EB-4 visa program is available specifically as a preference work visa allowing certain religious workers to immigrate for religious work purposes.

While annual caps are placed at 5,000 for non-ministerial worker positions, there is no cap on the number of those who intend to assume employment as a minister. For a person to qualify as a minister, he or she must have been a bona fide member of the religion for a minimum of two years, must have worked in a ministerial position continuously for at least two years previous to the application, either in the U.S. under lawful immigrant status or abroad, and must be seeking the visa solely to accept a full-time paid ministerial job. The continuous employment category does allow for breaks needed to further religious education, however.

Non-ministerial religious workers must also have been a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide U.S. religious organization for a minimum of two years. They must be seeking entry to work in a paid, full-time position, either for the religious organization itself or for an associated religious charitable organization.

Religious worker visas are available as a sub-type of employment immigration. People who believe they are eligible for such a visa should understand that the documentation that will be required of both them as well as of the religious organization for whom they intend to work is extensive. An immigration attorney might help facilitate the gathering of all needed documents, both from the client as well as the qualifying religious organization.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Special Immigrant Religious Workers", accessed on Jan. 27, 2015

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