The tax-exempt proof requirement
Petitioner agrees that it didn’t and doesn’t now have the appropriate IRS letter. Instead, it offers an exemption letter from the Florida Department of Revenue – even though that letter specifically says, “This Florida document, however, is not an IRS determination letter and thus does not meet the regulatory requirements under 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(r)(9)(i)-(ii).”
The petitioner, on appeal, offered a letter stating it would pay the pastor $720 bi-weekly. The Director replied that the Petitioner previously stated, “[t]he church does not compensate any of its Deacons and missionaries” and that “the church members will be donating finances and benevolence towards [the Beneficiary].” Similar references to payment by the benevolence of the church were referenced by the petitioner and in the Director’s request for evidence.
The AAO found that there were no W-2s or certified tax returns – nor an explanation for the absence of such documents as the law required. There was also no evidence of prior compensation or budgets to support the compensation requirement. At best, the statements by the petitioner indicated third-parties (such as the pastor or beneficiaries) will be paying the compensation – and not the church/petitioner.
The decision also found other defects in the Petition. The petition failed to show that the beneficiary has the requisite qualifications for a minister or religious worker position.