On May 10, 2019, the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office ruled for a petitioner seeking a green card for a religious worker. The decision, a rare victory for a petitioner, found that a temple (gurudwara) submitted proper evidence to classify a beneficiary as a special immigrant religious worker – to work as a minister (granthi). The petition was based on a Form I-360 petition based, in turn, on the Immigration and Nationality Act (the Act) section 203(b)(4), 8 U.S.C. § l 153(b)(4).
The INA section authorizes immigration classification for:
- Non-profit religious organizations (or their affiliates)
- To hire foreign nationals as ministers
- In religious vocations or other religious occupations
- In the United States
The appeal was taken from the decision of the Director of the California Service Center. The Director had ruled that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support:
- How the beneficiary would be compensated by the Petitioner and
- “That the beneficiary was continuously employed as a religious worker for at least two years immediately preceding the filing of the petition.”
The Appeals Office had previously dismissed the petitioner’s appeal because, though it had met the requirement to show how it would compensate the beneficiary – the petitioner had not met the requirement regarding the beneficiary’s prior two-year employment duty.
The petitioner submitted new evidence, in the form of a motion to reopen, on the two-year employment requirement which the Appeals Office of the USCIS found satisfactory.