I grew up in Denver Colorado in a pious Catholic family, the middle of three children. Both of my parents considered the possibility of entering religious life when they were young people, so the thought of a priestly or religious vocation for us children was always present alongside that of the married state. I attended the parish school, and then went on to an all-boys Catholic preparatory school run by the Jesuit Fathers. It was there that I first met religious order priests, and it was there in high school that I first seriously considered becoming a priest and a religious myself.
The non-minister permanent residence program that includes religious brothers and sisters (religious vocations) and other non-minister religious positions (religious occupations) is scheduled to expire on 09/30/2015 unless it is renewed by Congress. If past experience is an indicator, we have every reason to believe that the program will be extended as it has been renewed several times.
On July 5, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a policy memo declaring that the “lawful status” requirements of the immigrant regulations for religious workers would no longer be considered when adjudicating the I-360 immigrant petition. In addition, USCIS will amend Title 8 CFR Sec. 204.5(m)(4) and (11) and remove the lawful status requirements from the immigrant regulations for religious workers. Prior to this change, to be eligible for permanent residence a religious worker needed to demonstrate that he/she had at least two years of experience (as a religious worker) and if that experience was gained in the U.S., the religious worker must have shown that he/she maintained lawful status (and work authorization) during that time. With this announcement, the lawful status requirement is eliminated and USCIS will not deny religious worker I-360 petitions on this basis.
By Minyoung Ohm