Explaining Immigration Options for Special Immigrants
Hiring an employee isn’t a simple process. There are employment laws to be aware of, payroll and tax withholdings to handle, and the actual training and onboarding process for the employee. When you hire a foreign worker to come to the United States, there’s the additional challenge of ensuring that you follow all of the immigration policies and procedures, including sponsoring their visa. The EB-4 is an option for those who fall into the “special immigrant” option.
If you’re not sure how to sponsor a foreign worker for immigration through an employment-based visa or have questions about whether the EB-4 visa is the right choice for your situation, contact Badmus & Associates. We have decades of legal experience and have worked with businesses in the Dallas area to help them understand what’s required to be an employer sponsor and how to start the process.
How Does an EB-4 Visa Work?
An EB-4 visa is one of the categories of employment-based visas that allow foreign workers to come to the United States to live and work with permanent resident status. For a foreign worker to get an EB-4 visa, they need a specific job offer from an employer. The employer fills out a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant, also known as Form I-360. If the visa request is approved, the worker can travel to the United States and get their Green Card.
What Does the Term “Special Immigrant” Mean?
The EB-4 visa is for a specific category of people called special immigrants. According to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services office, this includes:
- Religious workers, such as those who work for nonprofit religious organizations
- Broadcasters, including those who are coming to work for the United States Agency for Global Media
- Doctors, specifically those who are coming to practice in underserved areas
- Employees of international organizations, such as the World Bank or United Nations
There are additional classifications under the EB-4 visa, such as special immigrant juveniles and members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Each employment category within the EB-4 visa may have its own specific qualifications in addition to the larger requirements of the EB-4 visa. Before beginning the process, it’s a good idea to talk with an immigration attorney about what you’ll need to do to be able to sponsor a worker under this option.
In general, you will need to have supporting documentation to prove what category the worker falls under, such as a worker certificate, medical waiver, or other records. The worker will also need to provide passport-style photographs and proof of their identity and nationality. This can be provided with documentation such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or police clearance certificates.
The filing fee for Form I-360 is $435, and there is an additional $220 immigrant fee. There is another $85 fee for the biometrics appointment, and additional fees for a Green Card application or Affidavit of Support may also be applicable.
Is a Labor Certification Required for an EB-4 Visa?
A PERM labor certification is required from the U.S. Department of Labor for most EB visas. This certifies that the employer has taken the appropriate steps to see if the position can be filled by workers already in the United States and that hiring someone outside the country won’t impact job availability for those in the United States. However, one of the main benefits of the EB-4 visa is that it does not require a labor certification. This means you can immediately fill out the Petition for Special Immigrant form and potentially speed up the process.
Who Can Be Included on an EB-4 Visa?
If you want to bring your spouse and/or children with you to the United States, the EB-4 visa does allow this option. You will need to include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 on your visa application. Keep in mind that anyone you are petitioning to include on your visa application must also be admissible to the United States and may need to submit to biometrics processing and other requirements.
How Many EB-4 Visas Are Available Each Year?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office limits the number of EB visas that can be approved to 140,000 each year. Because EB-4 visas are fourth in line when it comes to priority, there are far fewer of these available each year. About 7% of the total number of EB visas are available to special immigrants, which means there are a little less than 10,000 EB-4 visas available each year.
What Happens If I Change or Lose My Job?
Navigating job changes or job loss when you are already in the United States on a work visa can be especially challenging. The rules governing this aspect of immigration law are complex, and it’s always best to talk with an attorney about your specific situation before making any decisions or taking any action. There may be some situations where you are able to continue to stay in the United States and seek work with another employer. You may also be able to apply for a different visa that would allow you to continue to stay in the country. In general, there are more options available to you the longer you have been in the United States. If you lose or change your job shortly after arriving, it may be flagged as possible immigration fraud.
If you need help understanding the requirements for an EB-4 visa or have questions about employment-based immigration, call Badmus & Associates at 214-393-4917. Our attorneys are happy to discuss your situation and provide legal counsel on what makes the most sense for your company.