By Miguel A. Naranjo, RIS Section Director
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. Typically, it has been timely renewed, causing no interruptions or delays in the processing of cases. However, the sunset has also been allowed to expire in the past with the renewal not occurring until several months later. If that occurs, cases currently still in process (pending) will be delayed and put on hold until the program is renewed.
The RIS section has been informed that there is proposed legislation in Congress to extend the program. However, several critical elements, such as when the legislation will be introduced and the amount of time the program will be extended, remain unclear. Congress will soon be in recess and it is unlikely that there will be any legislative activity on this issue until the fall. We have been regularly reminding our clients about this issue and will continue to keep everyone updated. Please note that the sunset of this program is limited to permanent residence. It does not affect the R-1 Religious Worker visa program, which is available to all qualified religious workers, nor does it have any effect on the minister program for permanent residence.