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
Rita Dhakal joined the Religious Immigration Section of CLINIC in June 2009. She currently works with Attorney Megan Turngren to help to provide legal services to RIS clients. In addition, Rita volunteers with Legal Services of Northern Virginia, where she interviews clients for case intake and placement for the Uncontested Divorce Clinic.
By Minyoung Ohm
By Miguel Naranjo
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.
On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a major immigration policy change that would grant millions of individuals (without legal status in the U.S.) temporary stay from deportation and the opportunity to apply for work authorization. This administrative relief would be valid for three years. The executive action contains several initiatives including:
Robyn McCormick joined the Religious Immigration Section of CLINIC in June 2014. She is working with Attorney Kate Kuznetsova to help provide legal services to RIS clients.
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.