As a foreign country citizen, there are several ways to obtain American citizenship when you or your loved one want to enter California. California has over three million foreigners who are LPR (legal permanent residents), popularly referred to as the Green card-holders.
You could experience several issues during a green card application process. To help you understand the whole process and avoid unnecessary delays is hiring an immigration attorney. With the right law firm like California Immigration Attorney, all your questions regarding the EB-4 Religious Worker green card application process are answered. You receive advice on the steps to take.
In this article, you learn about the EB-4 Religious Worker green card application process.
Types of Green Cards
The United States has different types of green cards, depending on your particular case and the method you will apply to obtain the card. Each type of green card has different requirements that you will need to meet before you receive it. These types of green cards are:
You may apply for this type of green card if your close family members reside in the U.S and you would wish to join them. Only the immediate family members of United States citizens are given this type of green card; these family members include:
- The spouse,
- unmarried children under 21,
- parents, or
You could apply for this type of green card if you previously possessed a green card, but for some reason, you have been away from the United States for more than one year. These reasons are mostly beyond your control, like; detention in another country, family issues, or cultural reasons. To have a successful application, you will need to provide evidence by producing documents to support your claim that you had no opportunity to return to the U.S during that period.
When you obtain a job in the U.S, away from your country of origin, you will receive this type of green card. Your employer will have to apply, pay for the application process, and agree to sponsor your stay in the United States. With this type of green card, you must stay at your employer’s company until your contract comes to an end. Once you have completed your sponsorship terms and conditions, you can apply for other employment in the United States.
The United States holds a yearly visa lottery that allows immigration into the U.S from other countries. Every year, the U.S allows for 55,000 slots; if you apply and obtain this visa, it’s a step closer to receiving a green card.
How to Pursue an EB- 4 Religious Worker GreenCard in California
Once you have decided to apply for your green card under the EB-4 Religious worker category, you will need to ensure you follow the right application criteria and submit all the required forms on time.
The Employment-Based Immigration: Fourth Preference (EB-4)
An EB-4 visa is a specialized employment-based green card visa for a particular group of people referred to as "special immigrants." The United States permits non-profit making religious organizations members to apply for green cards using this visa category.
Apart from recognized religious workers, this visa category covers a wide range of applicants like:
- Broadcasters for International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB).
- Panama Canal employees.
- Spouse and children of a deceased NATO-6 employee.
- Retired NATO-6 employees.
- Members of the armed forces.
- Afghan and Iraqi translators.
- International organization employees.
- Juveniles depend on U.S judicial courts. These juveniles require the United States juvenile department's protection as they have been through abuse or abandonment by their parents or caregivers.
Each year the U.S limits the number of EB-4 category immigrant visas available; this requires you to file your petition on time to meet the cut and avoid having your petition filed as a backlog. Your employer should fill in form 1-360 petition on time. An EB-4 visa can easily allow you to apply for LPR (Lawful permanent residence) in the United States.
Special Immigrant Religious Workers
Special immigrant religious workers are ministers and other non-ministers or religious workers who may enter the U.S with the sole intention of working full time in a ministerial capacity for monetary and non-monetary remuneration.
Qualifications for Ministers
For the United States law to consider you as a minister, your religious organization must recognize your ability to perform certain religious activities. Monks, priests, deacons, and commissioned Salvation Army officials are recognized as ministers by the U.S law.
What Are The Requirements for an EB-4 Visa?
The first requirement is for you to fit in one of the special categories, then fill in the required documents. There is, however, one requirement that all applicants using EB-4 must adhere to, and that is having your employer file form 1-360 for you. All supporting documents must accompany this form. You should also be in a position to file the petition without an employer.
What is Form 1-360?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will provide you with a 1-360 petition when you wish to begin your green card application process if your category falls within the particular immigrant religious worker category.
Your religious organization must file the petition on your behalf. The organization must also prove the following information regarding your green card application:
- You are a member of the religious denomination.
They should show that you have been a member of the religious denomination for more than two years before the date they file your petition. They can prove this by attaching a letter from the religious denomination officials like a pastor.
- If you apply for a green card as a minister, the USCIS requires your employer, the religious organization, to provide particular documents. These documents include a copy of your ordination certificate and records to prove that the religious organization has accepted your qualifications to work as a minister in their religious denomination.
They could do this by providing documents like your certificates and transcripts that you received after your training at a theological institute if you attended one.
If your religious denomination does not involve theological training; the USCIS requires the form to include the following documentations:
- The ordination procedure which the religious denomination follows when appointing its ministers.
- The requirements that an ordained minister must meet in the religious denomination.
- The religious organization should show various ordination levels in the denomination if any.
- A confirmation that the applying minister has met all the requirements.
- The religious organization must prove that you have had two years of work experience before your green card application.
- The religious organization will also provide documentation that will indicate how they will pay you, either monetary or non-monetary compensation.
The Application Process for 1-360
When you or your organization fill out this form, you will need to bear in mind the category you are applying for. There are several sections on this form that should be left blank as they belong to other classes, but ensure you fill in the following areas:
Part 1: give your necessary information.
Part 2: ensure you fill out the section indicating your eligibility status.
Part 3: this section requires more of your information.
Part 4: designate a consulate office in your home country unless you are residing in a different country.
Part 5: regardless of your application category, ensure that you list your spouse and children. This action will assist them when applying for their visa; later on, if you do not indicate them while you are using, it will prove difficult for them when they start their application process.
What are the EB-4 Eligibility Requirements for A Religious Worker?
When you want to file your petition under EB-4 religious workers, specific qualifications that you must meet are:
- You must belong to a religious denomination affiliated with a non-profit organization in the United States.
- You must work in a religious organization that is non-profit making and one that has an affiliation with another religious denomination in the U.S.
- You must have worked for the same religious organization: After attaining age 14 either in your country of origin or in the U.S, or for a minimum period of two years before filing your petition with USCIS.
- You should enter the United States as a minister or a priest of a religious organization, and in your position, you should receive full compensation.
- You must have devoted yourself to your religious denomination culture and traditions or have taken specific vows to serve in your religious organizations.
- You should have been practicing professional or non-professional in your religious organization before entering the United States.
- You should seek to work in a religious organization, either in a professional or non-professional capacity.
- You should enter the U.S to continue in your vocation, work in a different religious career, or a ministerial capacity for a non-profit making affiliated religious organization.
When you are filing for a green card under the EB-4 religious worker category, you must meet the following requirements:
- Fill your petition on form 1-360 accompanied by all supplementary documents.
- You should be in a position to file your petition without an employer.
On-site Visits By USCIS Officials
Suppose you haven't been to the United States previously on an R-1 visa. In that case, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will perform an on-site visit of your religious organization premises to inspect and verify it is legitimate. This on-site visit includes inspection of the religious organization's main offices to review its documents and interview its employees.
The R-1 visa is a non-immigrant permit that allows a person to travel to the United States and serve in ministerial and other religious capacities. For you to receive an R-1 visa, your religious organization must be a registered bonafide non-profit making organization in the U.S.
Application For EB-4 Using R-1 Visa
You can apply for an EB-4 green card using the religious workers' category and transition from an R-1 visa holder. You will need to have your religious organization file form 1-360 on your behalf, and once it is approved, you must do the following:
- File form 1-485 to adjust your status. If you are an employee of a religious organization residing in the United States under approved immigration status, you can submit form 1-485 once you receive form 1-360 approval. Your immediate family members (spouse and children under 21) can use form 1-485 as well.
- You can apply for a green card using an immigrant visa when entering the United States through a foreign consulate.
The Application Procedure for EB-4 Religious Worker
When applying for a green card under the EB-4 religious worker category, you will have to meet the following requirements:
- Your religious organization should submit form 1-360 to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS).
- You must provide evidence of your religious organization.
- You must prove that the religious organization is a non-profit making organization.
- You must obtain a letter from your religious organization's superiors in the United States.
What is an EB-4 Religious Worker Letter?
An EB-4 religious letter is written by your organization's superiors in the United States, and it proves the following points:
- In this letter, your organization's superior must prove that you have been a member of the organization for at least two years before your application. You have had a minimum experience of two years in a religious or a vocational occupation.
- If you are a minister, the letter proves your authorization and which duties you will perform in the United States.
- Suppose you are applying as a religious professional. In that case, you will need to provide your official academic records, and you must also have a letter indicating your educational qualifications, whether a U.S bachelor's degree or its foreign equivalent.
- This letter must provide evidence of your qualifications for the ministerial position you are applying for.
- In this letter, your organizations' superior will indicate your expected wages while working with them; the letter will also explain that you will not rely on charity for your financial needs when on the United States soil.
- If your application is for a non-professional position in a religious organization affiliated with your religious denomination, the letter should establish the connection between the two.
- The letter must indicate that you will not earn money from a second job while working as a religious worker in the United States.
EB-4 Priority Date
A priority date is described as a date you submit your petition to the USCIS. The priority date is crucial in determining your green card processing time. You will need to check the monthly visa bulletin updates to compare your priority date with your country's final action dates. When these two coincides, your priority date changes to your current date; in other words, your current date is when a priority date reaches the front of the line for your country, and your green card is ready.
Priority dates differ for many people because the USCIS has set an annual limit to each visa category; this set number is distributed in various countries. The number of green card applicants in a given country will determine how long the waiting period will be. For example, if you apply for your green card in a country like China with a high population, your priority date will take a long time to be processed before becoming a current one.
There are only 5,000 green cards available for immigrant religious workers; this number does not include ministers.
Once your priority changes to the current one, you will need to undertake the final step in your green card application process. This last step involves obtaining your permanent residence status (LPR), which you can achieve in either of the following ways.
- Adjustment of status.
- Consular processing.
Adjustment of Status
If you are already in the United States under non-immigrant status, you can opt to adjust your position to an immigrant by filling out form 1-485. Adjustment of status happens if your entry to the U.S was through an R-1 visa. This process will cost you between $750-$1250 and will take about six months to be completed.
You will need to travel to an embassy or a consular office in your home country in this process. Once at the office, you will undertake an interview with a consular officer, ensuring that you pass this interview. If the consular officer approves you, you will receive an immigrant visa. This immigrant visa will allow you to enter the United States as a legal permanent resident. Consular processing is the only available way to enter the U.S when you live outside the U.S, and you are not under non-immigrant status.
Green Card Waiting Period
Your green card waiting period will depend on the method you use when changing your status; if you petition for a change of status when you are already in the U.S( adjustment of status), the process will take no less than a year. However, if you use consular processing, the process will take less time, from 15 calendar days to six months.
With EB-4 green card, you will enjoy a speedy processing time compared to other green card processing times.
Can your Family Members Join you in California?
Once your EB-4 Green card has been approved, some of your family members can join you. These family members include:
- Your spouse,
- Unmarried children under 21.
For your immediate family members to join you, they must do so in one of the following ways:
- Concurrent filing
Your family member may choose to join you in the United States once you become a permanent resident.
- Consular processing
If they choose this process, they will need to visit the US embassy or consulate in your country of origin and file for their visa.
- Adjustment of status
Your family can have their status adjusted if they are already in the United States under a non-immigrant visa.
Are EB-4 Green Cards Renewable?
Once you obtain your green card, you may naturalize into a U.S citizen with time, but if this doesn't happen, you must renew your green card after ten years, depending on your specific case.
Green Card Revocation
Despite acquiring a legal permanent residence, you can lose your LPR status if you receive a conviction for committing deportable crimes. A deportable crime is an offense that you can commit, and if you receive a sentence, it can have adverse effects on your LPR status. If you receive a conviction for committing the offenses referred to as "deportable crimes," you may receive penalties that include:
- deportation to your country of origin,
- You can have your right to re-enter the U.S denied,
- You can also lose the ability to neutralize into a U.S citizen.
Once you have become a legal permanent resident in California, you will have to follow the law. Failure to adhere to the state’s statutes may have serious repercussions that may lead to your deportation, regardless of how well you have established your life or how long you have lived in California. Several offenses fall under the category of deportable crime; they include:
- Domestic violence,
- Drug-related offenses like selling of prohibited substances,
- Moral turpitude crimes,
- Firearms offenses, and
- Aggravated felonies.
Contact an Los Angeles Immigration Attorney Near Me
If you want to serve in the United States as a religious minister, an EB-4 visa can make your dream a reality. After you are sure that you meet the U.S's eligibility criteria, follow the required application process.
Sometimes the religious call can come to you when your religious denomination seeks to employ more workers in the United States. The best route to follow when this happens is to hire an immigration attorney. At California Immigration Attorney, we have lawyers who will guide you when filling out the required documents.
With our impeccable skills in the immigration field, our law firm could help you use your R-1 status or apply for an EB-4 religious worker green card. Our attorneys understand different cultures and speak several other languages. For consultations and assistance, contact us today at 424-789-8809.