Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP

USCIS Extends Non-Minister Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended (PDF) the non-minister special immigrant religious worker program through September 29, 2009. The program had expired on March 6, 2009.

The extended category covers special immigrant religious workers in professional or non-professional capacity within a religious vocation or occupation. The extended date also applies to accompanying spouses and children of these non-ministers. Workers entering the U.S. only to continue the vocation of a religious minister are not affected by the expiration date.

USCIS will receive and process Petitions for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Forms I-360) for those religious workers affected by the expiration of the program. USCIS also will process Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Forms I-485) based on approved I-360 petitions for non-minister special immigrant religious workers.

Applications for Action on an Approved Application or Petition (Forms I-824) requesting “following-to-join” individuals whose basis for the adjustment was an approved I-360 SR petition for a non-minister category, or requesting an approved I-360 SR petition to be sent to the State Department’s National Visa Center, will continue to be accepted and processed as well, USCIS said.

Unless Congress extends the expiration date of the program, beginning September 30, 2009, USCIS will suspend processing of any pending Forms I-360, I-485, and I-824 affected by the expiration, and will reject all petitions and applications for this program received on or after that date.

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