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EB-4: Special Immigrant ("SIV") Classification

The employment-based fourth preference (EB-4) category is available to the following types of foreign national workers who meet the criteria for classification as “Special Immigrants”:

  • Religious Ministers and Workers;
  • Broadcasters;
  • Iraqis Who Have Assisted the United States;
  • Iraqi/Afghan Translators;
  • International Organization Employees;
  • Physicians;
  • Armed Forces Members;
  • Panama Canal Zone Employees;
  • Retired NATO-6 employees; and,
  • Spouses and Children of Deceased NATO-6 employees.

Religious Workers: The requirements for EB-4 classification as a religious worker are essentially the same as those for R-1 non-immigrants (see R-1 Overview) with one additional prerequisite. The individual must have worked in his or her religious occupation for at least two years immediately preceding the application.

Broadcasters: Each fiscal year, 100 immigrant visas are set aside for broadcasters entering the U.S. to work for the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) or for a grantee of the Broadcasting Board. The BBG encompasses all U.S. civilian international broadcasting, including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Martí, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television. A broadcaster is defined as a “reporter, translator, editor, producer or announcer for news broadcasts; hosts for news broadcasts, news analysis, editorials and other broadcast features or news analysis specialists”. Technical or support personnel do not fall within the definition of a broadcaster.

Iraqis Who Have Assisted the United States: The Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law on January 28, 2008, created a new special immigrant category for Iraqi employees and contractors. The Act authorizes the issuance of 5,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year from 2008 until 2012. To qualify as a special immigrant, the candidate must: (1) have worked for or on behalf of the U.S. Government for at least one year, beginning on or after March 20, 2003; (2) be experiencing or have experienced an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment; (3) not present a security risk to the U.S.; and, (4) otherwise meet the eligibility requirements for and immigrant visa and admission to the U.S.

In order to attain special immigrant status, the candidate must first apply for and obtain an SIV approval from Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Baghdad. The application process is completed electronically, through email. The candidate is require to submit a letter of recommendation from his or her supervisor or the appropriate senior-level supervisor if the candidate’s supervisor has left Iraq/the employer or is otherwise unable to provide a letter. In general, the recommending supervisor should be a U.S. citizen who has directly supervised the candidate, or supervises the company for which the candidate is or was employed. The recommending must certify, in writing, that the candidate is personally known to the supervisor and, to the best of the his or her knowledge, presents no threat to the national security or safety of the U.S. The Chief of Mission then conducts an independent review of the application, and must make the following findings to issue an approval: (1) the candidate has been employed by, or on behalf of the U.S. Government on or after March 20, 2003, for a period of not less than one year; (2) the candidate has provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government; and, (3) the candidate has experienced or is experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of his or her employment by the U.S. Government.

After the Chief of Mission issues an approval, the candidate may file a petition (I-360 petition) with USCIS to request classification as a special immigrant. If the candidate is present in the U.S., he or she may apply for adjustment of status once USCIS approves the petition, provided that a visa is available. Candidates abroad are required to complete an interview process at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

(iv) Proof of an independent review of (ii) above conducted by the Chief of Mission, Embassy Baghdad, or his or her designee, of records maintained by the U.S. Government or hiring organization or entity, to confirm employment and faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government.