International Organization employees are granted G-4 non-immigrant visas to permit them to enter the U.S., and the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) allows them to remain in the U.S. for the duration of their status as U.S. based International Organization employee. The spouse and children of the principal G-4 employee are issued the same visa classifications. Spouses can remain in the U.S. in G-4 status while they are married to the principal G-4 employee; and children can remain in G-4 while they are single, under the age of 25, and reside in the principal G-4 visas holder’s household, or are full time students whose permanent address is the same as their parent employed by the International Organization.
This article will discuss the options for G-4 visa holders to change non-immigrant status or to apply for permanent residence upon the principal G-4 applicant’s termination of employment or retirement from the International Organizations in the United States.
The most basic rule enforced by the State Department on issuing visas, CBP on admitting non-immigrants and the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), the agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with adjudicating applications for change of non-immigrant status in the U.S., is that individuals eligible to be in G status may not be issued a visa, be admitted, or receive a change of status to any other non-immigrant status. For change of non-immigrant status applications submitted to the USCIS in the United States, form I-566 must be indorsed by both the UN employer and the U.S. Mission to the International Organization before the application can be approved. Visas categories that G-4 principals and/or their dependants may be eligible for upon the termination of employment in the U.S. include: H-1B, O-1, E-1, E-2, TN for Canadians and Mexicans, and F-1, among others.
A special non-immigrant category of N visa is available to the parent or sibling of a child who became a permanent resident through the special immigrant provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act for foreign national children of International Organization employees. The parents and siblings are permitted to remain in N status until the permanent resident relative is 21 years of age, and the parent can obtain employment authorization. This visa category is available to both the former International Organization employee and his or her spouse.
A change of status to immigrant (green card) can be granted to both the principal G-4 employee and his or her spouse upon the retirement of the principal G-4 visa holder after her or she having been employed in G-4 status in the U.S. for 15 years including 3 ½ of the 7 years prior to applying. For this petition, “retired” means older than (World Bank 50) 55 and entitled to a pension from the International Organization joint pension fund. The petition for special immigrant status, which must accompany the application for permanent residence, must be filed within six months of the retirement date.
Widows and widowers of G-4 principal employees may also file for permanent residence, if their spouse had been employed for 15 years in the U.S. in G-4 status, including 3 ½ of the past 7 years prior to their death. Petitions must be filed within the first 6 months after the death of the principal G-4.
The child of a International Organization employee can file for permanent residence independently of his or her parent if the child had been in G-4 dependant status for 7 years between the ages of 5 and 21 (the USCIS Appellate Board has held that a child remains 21 until the day before his or her 22nd birthday), and for 3 ½ years of the 7 years prior to the filing of the petition. The petition must be filed prior to the child’s 25th birthday. See N visa above for how these two can work together.
Other options for obtaining permanent residence include the filing of a petition by a U.S. citizen adult (over 21 years of age) son or daughter, for his or her foreign national parent, marriage by a foreign national to a U.S. citizen, or the filing of a an employment based immigrant visa petition.
For more information or for you specific needs, please contact me directly.
David M. Gottfried, Esq. Gottfried & Gottfried, LLP.
122 E 42nd Street Suite 620 New York, NY 10168 (646) 218-7553
www.gottfried.net / firstname.lastname@example.org
For “Common Tax Mistakes Made by U.S. Nonresidents Working for International Organizations,” see