Non-Minister sunset expiration & Visa Bulletin updates | CLINIC

Non-Minister sunset expiration & Visa Bulletin updates

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Megan S. Turngren

President Trump signed the Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2018 on March 23, 2018, which extended the federal budget until Sept. 30, 2018. This measure also extended the Non-Minister Permanent Residence Program in INA Section 101(a)(27)(C)(ii)(II) and (III) until Sept. 30, 2018. The program allows international non-minister religious workers the opportunity to apply for permanent resident status in the United States.

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows qualified “Special Immigrants” to come to the United States as minister and non-minister religious workers and to apply for permanent residence. The religious worker section of the law allowing “non-ministers” to become permanent residents was originally enacted in 1990 as a “sunset provision,” meaning it has an expiration date and must be renewed by Congress if the program is to continue. It has never been made a permanent law. As mentioned above, the law was renewed again, but was only given a brief extension. It will expire on Sept. 30, 2018, unless Congress acts. 

In addition, there is still an immigrant visa quota limit, which is publicized in the Visa Bulletin, currently affecting ALL international religious workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. On Aug. 1, 2018, ALL international religious workers from India will also face the same delays due to quota limits. All religious workers from these countries will face processing delays when applying for permanent residence. 

It is anticipated that only those individuals with approved I-360 petitions filed before the dates listed below will be able to pursue permanent residency on Aug. 1, 2018. Additionally, USCIS has not yet announced its decision regarding which chart will be used for processing times. However, as they have used the Final Action Dates processing chart for the past year, we anticipate that it will be used again on Aug. 1, 2018.

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras    

08 Feb 2016


08 Feb 2016


08 Feb 2016

Cases that are already pending for religious workers from these countries will continue to be processed. However, they will not be eligible for the green card application (Form I-485) to be adjudicated until their priority number becomes current.

Please note that the neither the sunset nor the immigrant visa quota affects the R-1 Nonimmigrant Visa (temporary visa) program. The R-1 Visa program remains valid.

We strongly encourage you to inform your religious organization about this program and let your elected representatives know how important this program is to you and for the Church’s work in the United States. If you have specific questions, please contact your RIS attorney.

Thursday, August 9, 2018 - 2:45pm