Special Immigrants

Special Immigrants are persons who qualify for a permanent resident status (green card) under the USCIS special immigrant program.

Special Immigrants include:

  1. Religious Workers

To be eligible in the religious worker category, the individual must have been a member of a bona fide non-profit religious denomination for at least two years and must been working continuously for the past two years immediately prior to filing the immigrant petition as either a religious minister or in a religious occupation. The individual must seek to enter the United States solely to carry out such religious occupation of the employer’s denomination.

  1. Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government Employees

To be eligible in this category, the petitioner must have been one of the following in 1977, at the time the Panama Canal Treaty was enacted:

  • A resident in the Panama Canal zone who was working for the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government for at least 1 year
  • A national of Panama who honorably retired from the United States Government employment in the Canal Zone with a total of 15 years or more of faithful service
  • An employee of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government who had performed faithful service for five or more years as an employee, and whose personal safety or the personal safety of his or her spouse or child is in danger as a direct result of the special nature of his or her employment, and was the direct result of the Treaty
  1. International Organization Employees or Family Members

  2. Broadcaster

Individuals (and their spouses and children) who are coming to work in the United States as a broadcaster for the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), or for a grantee of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, may apply for a green card (permanent residence).

The term “broadcaster” may include a reporter, writer, translator, editor, producer, announcer, news broadcast host, news analysis, editorial and other broadcasting features, or a news analysis specialist. The term broadcaster does not include individuals performing purely technical or support services or working in the entertainment field.

There is an annual limit of 100 visas in this category. Spouses and children are not counted towards this yearly limit.

  1. NATO-6 Nonimmigrant

This group includes certain individuals who entered the United States in NATO-6 nonimmigrant status (civilian NATO employees and their unmarried sons and daughters).

  1. Physician National Interest Waiver (NIW)

This group includes the EB-2 individuals of exceptional ability and individuals who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees. To be eligible for permanent residence, the individuals need to agree to work full-time in a clinical practice (usually for a period of 5 years). Additionally such practitioners need to work in a primary case or be a specialty physician. The individual also needs to obtain a statement from a federal agency or a state department of health that has knowledge of the individual’s qualifications as a physician and that states that the individual’s work is in the public interest. To qualify the physician must serve either in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Mental Health Professional Area (MHPSA – for psychiatrists only), a Medically Underserved Area (MUA), or a Veterans Affairs facility, or for specialists in a Physician Scarcity Area (PSA).

  1. Juvenile Court Dependents

Special Immigrant Juvenile status is designed for non-U.S. citizen children in the United States who do not have permanent residence and have been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents.  For a child to be eligible, a U.S. state juvenile court must:  make the child dependent on the court (or place the child under the legal custody of a state agency or other individual appointed by the state), declare that the child cannot be reunited with one or both of his or her parents due to abuse, abandonment or neglect and declare that it is not in the best interests of the child to be returned to his/her country of citizenship.

  1. Armed Forces Members

To be eligible an individual must be admissible to the United States and must have originally enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces outside the United States under a treaty or an agreement that was in effect on October 1, 1991. To qualify for permanent residence the individual must have served for a required period of time (12 years followed by separation under honorable conditions or 6 years, if still on active duty and if reenlisted for a total active duty service obligation of a minimum of 12 years). Additionally an individual must be a national of an independent state that maintains a treaty or agreement allowing nationals of that state to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces each year. The executive branch of the Armed Services under which the individual serves or has served has recommended the individual for this special immigrant status.

  1. Afghanistan or Iraq nationals who supported the U.S. Armed Forces as translators
  1. Iraq nationals who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. Government in Iraq

This group includes the individuals who have been employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003, for a period of not less than 1 year.

Please see the USCIS website for more information about the special immigrant classifications.

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