We are a group of immigration attorneys who specialize in religious worker immigration law. We assist Catholic archdioceses, dioceses, and religious communities in navigating this complex area of law by offering consultations, advice, and preparation of legal filings of immigration petitions and applications. We are fully aware of how complicated the process above can be, and we have firsthand experience observing how legal violations by a sponsor or a foreign-born religious worker can impact an organization’s or worker’s future immigration benefits. Our expertise in this field helps our clients to easily move through the process and have their matters resolved in the most expeditious way possible. We look forward to assisting you with your immigration case.
Religious Immigration Services is currently accepting new cases. Please contact us at RIS@cliniclegal.org or 301.565.4832 to learn more.
Travel Warning to ALL International Religious Workers in the U.S.
The past 48 hours have demonstrated how quickly the U.S. immigration landscape can change. President Trump’s executive order banning individuals from certain countries entry into the U.S. has been severely criticized not only here but also around the world. As with his other recent executive orders, clarity, guidance, and even legality of the orders are in question. The current travel ban is limited to people from seven countries:
Screened refugees, temporary visa holders, and even lawful permanent residents of the U.S. from these countries have been removed from international flights or detained by Customs and Border Protection officers at international airports across the country. In response, there have been several Federal District Court orders requiring CBP to not remove people from the U.S. (at ports of entry) and also to allow access to legal representation if a person is detained. It is not clear if CBP is fully complying with these orders. The events of this weekend are unprecedented in modern U.S. history. In addition, this may not be the end of the administration issuing executive orders and policies that will negatively affect immigrants. The situation is very much in flux.
Given the uncertainty of this matter, we feel it appropriate to warn ALL international religious workers serving in the U.S. (regardless of nationality) to re-evaluate travel outside the U.S. If you have a trip scheduled or you have traveled to any of the listed countries above in the last 5 years you should talk to your immigration attorney before departing the U.S.
If you are a religious worker from one of the countries listed above (regardless of your immigration status – temporary visa or lawful permanent resident) you should not travel outside the U.S. and you should speak with your immigration attorney before you consider leaving the U.S. If you depart the U.S., you may not be permitted to return. This travel ban is scheduled for 90 days but may continue longer. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional clarification once we learn anything. Please call your RIS attorney if you have any questions about travel during this time.
Recent RIS Blog Articles
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.