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.



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