More than most people, those with religious vocations tend to need to travel around the world offering their services. Whether this is helping the poor or preaching to their followers, religious workers frequently come to the country, or need to adjust their immigration status. With this in mind, there are special laws on the books made specifically for religious workers. Understanding all your options can help ensure you are able to do your work with as little delay or interruption as possible.
Limits on Non-Minister Religious Workers
There is currently a cap of 5000 workers who can be issued an immigrant non-minister religious worker visa each fiscal year. This limit is not always reached each year, but it is important to be aware of it.
In order to qualify for a religious worker immigrant status, the foreign national must meet each of these requirements:
- For a minimum of two years immediately prior to the time applying for the status, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious organization that has non-profit status in the United States.
- Seek to come to the US in order to work full time as a minister of a denomination or to work in a professional or non-professional capacity in a religious vocation.
- Must have been working in a qualifying religious position for at least the previous two years continuously. If you took a break from religious work you can still qualify if you were still employed as a religious worker, the break did not exceed two years, and the nature of the break was for further religious training or a sabbatical.
Completing the Application
The form I-360 must be submitted on the religious worker’s own behalf by the qualifying organization. In addition to the required documentation from the religious worker, the religious organization must also provide proof of tax-exempt status and proof of compensation for the worker.
Family of Religious Workers
If the religious worker has a family, they will be eligible to accompany the worker and will also be issued green cards. Family includes a spouse as well as any unmarried children who are under the age of 21.
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