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DRIS

Non-minister Permanent Residence Program Update (Sunset of Non-minister Program)

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.

USCIS Eliminates “Lawful Status” Requirements in Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program (Permanent Residence Program)

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.

Updates on USCIS Site Visits for Religious Workers

An important part of the immigration process of sponsoring international religious workers to the U.S. involves a site visit from USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). This is required per the immigration regulations and is used to verify the elements of the petition filed by the sponsor (including sponsor and beneficiary information, work location, etc.). These site visits may occur with advance notice or without any notice at all. Also, a successful site visit is a prerequisite for the sponsor’s ability to file I-129 petitions for nonimmigrant religious workers via premium processing.

A Note of Thanks

By Miguel Naranjo

RIS Director

 

At this time of the year I always find myself reflecting on the past 11 months.  I look back at the things we accomplished, the things that did not turn out so well, and on how we might do things differently in the New Year.  In addition, I also feel grateful for many things in life, including how fortunate I am to be working at CLINIC with the Religious Immigration Services (RIS) section

USCIS to Increase Number of Site Visits

As you may be aware, part of the immigration process of sponsoring international religious workers to the U.S. involves a site visit from USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).  This is required per the immigration regulations and is used to verify the elements of the petition filed by the sponsor (including sponsor and beneficiary information, work location, etc.).  These site visits may occur with advance notice or without any notice at all. 

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