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Non-Minister Special Immigrant Religious Workers Sunset Date

Today, September 30, 2023, was the final day or the “sunset date” for Non-Minister Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program. On Dec. 29, 2022, the president signed into law H.R. 2617, which extended the program through September 30, 2023, to allow these workers to immigrate or adjust to permanent resident by that date.

Congress had amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in 1990 to create a special immigrant status for ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations. It provided a path to permanent residency (by filing an I-360 petition) for those who were a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years before filing; had been working continuously for the past two years immediately prior to filing the immigrant petition; and sought to enter the United States solely to work as a minister or in the religious vocation or occupation of your employer’s denomination.

Special immigrants entering the U.S. solely to carry on the vocation of a minister, and their accompanying spouses and children, are not affected by the sunset date.

It remains to be seen how this will affect various churches and religious organizations throughout the U.S. The injunction preventing DACA applications from being adjudicated or renewed has also caused problems for religious workers, particularly those connected to the Catholic Church.

There were several recent changes affecting religious workers. A Policy Alert was issued in August 2022 addressing several policy changes.



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