Client: Church Association
Client’s Country of Origin: Ethiopia
Case Type: I-29 Petition for Special Religious Worker
Date of Application: January 2018
Date of Approval: June 2019

Our client a non-profit Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church, retained Attorney Erin James of Herman Legal Group to assist with petitioning a religious worker to come to the Cleveland area. Our client suffered due to the lack of Ethiopian Orthodox priests in the US. Although our client is affiliated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, whose membership consists of nearly 50 million people, the majority of its members live in Ethiopia. As a result, our client needed a religious worker who has a comprehensive knowledge of the Scriptures and familiarity with the whole body of traditional rituals passed down through generations.

At the time, the beneficiary lived in Ethiopia and served as a full-time Monk and Priest.

By law, to qualify as a special immigrant religious worker, a foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the US for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of a petition to seek to enter or adjust status in the US in a full-time, compensated position as a minister or as someone in a religious vocation or religious occupation. Due to these requirements, Attorney Erin James needed to assemble substantial evidence to demonstrate the church’s status as a non-profit religious organization and evidence of satisfaction of criteria that makes the priest eligible for the position. With expert counsel, our client was able to file a petition that provided specific information in regards to its organization and various certifications and letters from other priests attesting to the beneficiary’s work. As a result, the USCIS warranted its approval with no issue. Upon the approval, our client’s Senior Priest visited our office and happily gave us his blessing.