The Religious Immigration Section of CLINIC, along with immigration practitioners around the country, breathed a sigh of relief on September 13, 2012,when the House of Representatives passed an extension of the Non-Minister Provision of the Special Immigrant Worker Program. Unless this extension passed, individuals pursuing religious vocations and religious occupations would no longer have been eligible to become legal permanent residents. This would have meant that nuns, brothers, seminarians, pastoral associates, religious teachers, missionaries, and those in formation would have been excluded from permanent residency.
The incredible service that is performed by these individuals often reaches those far outside the boundaries of the United States. By using the resources that only a country such as the United States has to offer, these “non-ministers” are able to spread their message of compassion and charity throughout the world.
For example, sisters of various religious communities are currently serving at the United Nations. While their ministry encompasses many areas, there is a primary focus on poverty, education, and bringing awareness to the global epidemic of human trafficking.