A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Non-Minister Religious Workers Green Card Program Expired Jan. 19, 2018

Foreign ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations may adjust their status to permanent residents in the U.S. if they can meet certain requirements.  The special immigrant religious worker category under the employment-based fourth-preference (EB-4) visa classification allows foreign religious workers of any faith or denomination to immigrate to the U.S. to perform religious work in a full-time compensated position.  

While there is no numerical limit for foreign religious workers to immigrate to the U.S. to carry on the vocation of a minister, there is an annual cap of 5,000 workers who may be issued a special immigrant non-minister religious worker visa during each fiscal year.  The last extension for the program by Congress was made on 12/22/2017 through 01/19/2018.  Due to the shutdown of the Federal government, the program has not been extended.  

Starting  01/20/2018, USCIS will reject any Special Immigrant petitions for Non-Minister Religious Workers (Form I-360).  Petitions pending on 01/20/2018 will be placed on hold until the program has been reauthorized.  Applicants by accompanying spouses and children of these non-minister special immigrant religious workers will also also affected.  However, religious workers who are seeking admission to the U.S. solely for the purpose of carrying on the vocation of a minister, and their spouses and children, are not affected. 

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