On Sept. 8, Congress passed a continuing resolution for the non-minister special immigrant religious worker program. Read more to see how this will affect religious workers in your organization.
The non-minister special immigrant religious worker program currently has legislative authority through April 28, 2017, under a bill signed by President Obama in December 2016. The law allows non-ministers, such as religious sisters or brothers, or other lay religious workers in the religious vocation or religious occupation categories, to adjust to permanent resident status.
Religious workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico are unable to submit an adjustment of status or immigrant visa application at this time.
Filing a change of address with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is a simple but important task for foreign nationals who are in the United States. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 265(a), "each alien required to be registered under this title who is within the United States shall notify the attorney general in writing of each change of address and new address within ten days from the date of such change and furnish with such notice such additional information as the attorney general may require by regulation." Any non-citizens, including permanent residents, who reside in the U.S. should use Form AR-11, the Alien’s Change of Address Card, to report their change of address within 10 days of moving to the new address.
An important part of the immigration process of sponsoring international religious workers to the United States involves a site visit from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This required visit is used to verify elements of the petition filed by the sponsor, including sponsor and beneficiary information, and work location. Site visits may occur with advance notice or without any notice. A successful site visit allows the sponsor to qualify for expedited processing when filing I-129 petitions for a nonimmigrant religious worker, also known as premium processing.
Each year, the RIS staff spends time together to plan ahead for the next year. Through this two-day brainstorming session in November, team members discussed ways to improve RIS, in part by working more closely with other sections within CLINIC, as well as ways to increase our social media presence.
More than two dozen participants from as far away as Missouri, Texas and Nebraska met the staff of Religious Immigration Services in Garden Grove, California, in October for a day-long training in religious immigration.
The group included practitioners from Catholic Charities agencies and private firms as well as priests and religious, representing dioceses or religious communities.
Chris Ross joined CLINIC in January 2015. Prior to joining RIS, he worked on immigration policy. He graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law and is a member of the Maryland State Bar.
There are many concerns about how immigration policy will change and evolve in the U.S. in 2017. There will be a new administration and new staff responsible for managing the laws, regulations and policies of our country. International religious workers serving the church in the U.S. will not be immune from changes that may occur.
A new schedule of filing fees from USCIS takes effect Dec. 23, 2016. Applications or petitions mailed, postmarked, or otherwise filed on or after Dec. 23, 2016 must include the new fee. Below is a list of the most common petitions and applications used by religious workers and the current and new fee schedule:
|Form||Current Fee||New Fee – 12/23/2016|