Special Immigrants

Special immigrants are those who qualify for permanent resident status (green card status) in the U.S. under a program of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) called the special immigrant program. To qualify for an immigrant visa under this program, foreigners must file applications documenting their circumstances with USCIS.

Following are the categories of foreigners eligible for special immigrant visas.

  • Foreigners working for bona fide religious denominations
  • Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been on active duty for more than 12 years after October 15, 1978
  • Foreign nationals seeking to work in the U.S. for the International Broadcasting Bureau as broadcasters
  • Retired officers of international organizations and their family members who have lived in the U.S. for a long time.
  • Those who entered the U.S. in NATO-6 non-immigrant status
  • Foreign medical graduates who have lived here for a long time can get green cards under the Physician National Interest Waiver.
  • Foreigners dependent on juvenile courts
  • Afghani or Iraqi nationals who served the U.S. Armed Forces as translators
  • Nationals of Iraq who worked in Iraq for the U.S. government.

To get immigrant visas under the special immigrant program, applicants must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. Eligibility requirements for all these different categories are different. Likewise, supporting documents they will need to submit will vary depending on the category under which they are applying for immigrant visas.

Generally, people applying for visas as special immigrants can self-petition for themselves. In certain cases, the sponsoring organizations must file the petitions on behalf of their workers.