Congress has temporarily extended the nonminister immigrant visa category, but only until October 31, 2009. Therefore, nonminister religious workers can presently file, or have adjudicated, their I-485 applications for permanent resident, but only for the next two weeks. Congress will consider a further extension, but when, or if that happens is uncertain.

1. Consider filing for adjustment by October 30, 2009, if you did not already

do so:

Because of the impending cutoff date, this means that the I-485
application for non-ministers must be filed and received at the relevant CIS Service Center, no later than Friday, October 30, 2009.

If you are a nonminister,
or represent a nonminister, who remains otherwise eligible to adjust status under INA 245, but did not file in September when no visas were available due to the sunset of the category, you should consider submitting the adjustment of status application now. Note that pursuant to Ruiz-Diaz, an I-360 and I-485 can be filed concurrently. You must still meet the other eligibility requirements relating to qualifications: that is, an available job at a qualifying religious organization, and without having in excess of 180 days of unlawful presence/employment.

Filing the application for adjustment of status should cut off any unlawful
presence /unauthorized employment that is accruing or will begin to accrue against the applicant after expiration of R-1 status. If you do not accomplish this for a nonminister whose R-1 runs out while a further extension by Congress is in limbo, your client could run past the 180 day grace period of INA 245k and be ineligible to adjust.

2. Seek expedites of pending non-minister I-485 applications:

Likewise, if your nonminister religious worker I-485 is pending adjudication, you should promptly request an expedited decision so the approval issues on or before October 30, 2009. My office is presently trying to confirm the best procedure to obtain such an expedite and will post this as soon as possible. If the application is not approved by October 30, adjudication cannot occur until Congress again extends the program.

The Law Office of Robert F. Mirque, Jr. has been representing clients with immigration matters for over 18 years. Mr. Mirque is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is prepared to take on your immigration issues. If you or someome you know has questions about non-minister immigrant visas or any other immigration issue, please call us at 616-233-9300 to schedule an appointment.


Important Deadline for Religious Workers

Readers of my blog are reminded of an important deadline for religious workers who might benefit from the court’s order in Ruiz-Diaz v. United States, No. CO-71881RSL (W.D. Wash. June 11, 2009).

Applications for adjustment of status must be filed by August 31, 2009. This deadline applies to those applicants who had Form I-360 religious worker immigrant petitions pending as of June 11, 2009, and have accrued unlawful presence or unauthorized employment from the date of filing. A properly filed adjustment of status application by August 31, 2009 will toll any such unlawful presence or unauthorized employment until USCIS issues a final administrative decision.

If you have any questions about this deadline or any other immigration issue please give me a call at 616-233-9300.


US Court Orders USCIS to Accept Concurrently Filed Religious Worker I-360 and I-485

Some good news has come to religious workers who intend on filing an I-485.

In a United States District Court decision out of the state of Washington, the court in RUIZ-DIAZ v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ruled that a Petitioner who filed or will file a Petition for Special Immigrant Religious Worker Visa (Form I-360) with the USCIS on behalf of an individual beneficiary may now file an Application for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) and, if the beneficiary seeks employment status, may also file an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) even if USCIS has not yet decided on the I- 360 petition.

Previously, the I-360 had to be adjudicated before the I-485 and I-765 could be filed.

The Court has struck down USCIS’ policy against concurrent filings as an unreasonable
interpretation of the applicable statute. In an order dated June 11, 2009, the USCIS is now required to accept as properly filed the I-485 and I-765 from individuals who are beneficiaries of a petition for special immigrant status,
whether submitted concurrently with or subsequent to the visa petition. 

Please keep in mind that this decision may be subject to review in the United States Court of Appeals. But for now this is a victory to the applicants filing under this category.

If you have any questions about religious worker visas, please call my office at 616-233-9300 to schedule an appointment.


Non-Minister Special Immigrant Religious Worker Expiring 03/06/2009

On March 6, 2009, the category covering non-minister special immigrant religious workers will expire. The non-minister religious worker category includes professional or non-professional capacities within a religious vocation or occupation. Therefore, individuals under the non-minister category must adjust their status to permanent residence or be admitted before March 6, 2009. Unless there is a Congressional extension of the expiration date, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will suspend further processing of any pending applications under the non-minister category. The expiring category does not affect individuals applying under the minister category of the program. If the program is extended beyond March 6, 2009, get updates by calling my office at (616) 233-9300 or check out the USCIS website www.uscis.gov.

Translate »