Green cards through employment are divided into five categories:
First Preference EB-1 Priority Workers (no labor certification is required)
Priority workers are divided up into three subcategories:
i) Workers of Extraordinary Ability
Extraordinary ability is demonstrated through achievements that have been publicly recognized in a period of sustained national or international acclaim.
ii) Outstanding Professors and Researchers
An applicant qualifies for this category if they have an international reputation in being particularly outstanding in a particular academic field and have three years minimum of either teaching or research experience in that field. Additionally, the applicant must accept a teaching or tenure position at a research university or accept a job conducting research with a research organization or industry.
iii) Multinational Executives and Managers
The qualifications for multinationals and executives are similar to L-1 intracompany transfer visas. An applicant may qualify for this category only if a qualified company outside the U.S. employed them as an executive or manager for at least one out of the past three years. The position must be similar and with a United States branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the same company.
The advantage of an EB-1 classification is that no labor certification is required.
Second Preference EB-2
This category is applicable to workers who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and workers who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Labor Certifications are normally required for this category.
i) Advanced Degree Professionals
An advanced degree professional must hold a graduate level degree, or a professional degree requiring postgraduate education. An applicant can substitute the advanced degree requirement with a bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressively responsible experience.
ii) Persons of Exceptional Ability
This subcategory covers applicants in the area of arts, sciences, and business. Although the standard is less than international acclaim the applicant must still be considered significantly more accomplished than the average person in that profession.
Third Preference EB-3(Labor Certification is required)
The EB-3 category is divided into three subcategories:
i) Skilled Workers
To qualify for this subcategory workers must be engaged in occupations that need two years of training or experience. These positions do not normally require a bachelor’s degree.
Professionals include such occupations as architects, lawyers, physicians, engineers, accountants, therapists, and chemists. The professional subcategory in preference three requires that the applicant have a bachelor’s degree.
iii) Unskilled workers
Occupations generally requiring less than two years of experience fall into this category. The applicant must meet the qualifications of the job and the job must not be seasonal or temporary. Applicants categorized as unskilled workers will have to wait much longer than applicants in the other subcategories do, since this category is severely backlogged.
Fourth Preference Religious Workers EB-4
The EB-4 Category encompasses religious workers, and former employees of the United States government and other organizations.
This category covers religious workers that
i) have been a member of the religious organization of a recognized religion that has a non-profit organization in the U.S. for at least two years.
ii) employed in that religious group for two years and
iii) the sole reason for coming to the United States must be to work as a religious worker for their religious organization.
The applicant must have a “Letter from the Authorized Official” who belongs to the applicant’s religious organization. The letter must state:
(a) that the applicant performed work as a religious worker before applying for the visa. Volunteer work does not suffice as work experience. The applicant must have a minimum of 2 years experience in the religious occupation or vocation.
(b) The letter must also show that the applicant qualifies for the religious position.
(c) Finally, the letter must explain how the applicant will be paid. The applicant’s organization will also need to provide documentation demonstrating that it is a tax-exempt non-profit organization.
In addition, the law provides three categories of religious workers under EB-4 classification. They include: (1) ministers of religion, (2) professionals working in religious vocations or occupations, and (3) other workers in religious vocations or occupations. Based on the information you provided, the third category appears most appropriate for your intended employment. Working in a religious occupation requires that the individual’s occupation relate to a traditional religious function. For instance, positions that have met this definition are religious instructors, counselors, and missionaries.