Special immigrants are non-citizens from certain groups, including U.S. government or international organization’s employees and their families, religious workers, and some juveniles, who can apply for permanent workers’ visas under USCIS special immigrant programs. Once approved, they may work and live in the U.S. permanently with Green Cards. See: 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27). The special immigrant programs are:
- Special immigrant juveniles (SIJ)
- For juveniles under 21 years old (at the time of filing the SIJ petition), if they are in the U.S and need juvenile courts’ protection as they have been neglected, abused, or abandoned by a parent, they are eligible for SIJ classification. Once classification is granted, they will receive Green Cards to stay in the U.S. permanently. A valid state juvenile court order is the prerequisite for the USCIS to grant the petition of an SIJ classification or a Green Card. The denial of juveniles’ fair judicial procedure may invoke the claim of due process.
- Employment-Based Fourth Preference Special Immigrants
- Those who are eligible for the fourth preference permanent workers visa (EB-4) are also special immigrants. They are “religious workers, special immigrant juveniles, certain broadcasters, certain retired officers or employees of a G-4 international organization or NATO-6 civilian employees and their family members, certain employees of the U.S. government who are abroad and their family members, members of the U.S. armed forces, Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone government employees, certain physicians licensed and practicing medicine in a U.S. state as of Jan. 9, 1978, Afghan or Iraqi translators or interpreters, Iraqis who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government, and Afghans who were employed by the U.S. government or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).”
[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]