The USCIS recognizes that ministers of a religious denomination have a strong tradition in the US immigration law framework. Congressional approval for lawful permanent residency for qualifying ministers and their families dates back to the Immigration Act of 1924. In 1990, Congress crafted a special immigration category – for both ministers and other religious workers in the new Immigration and Nationality Act.
There is a key difference between immigration approval for ministers and religious workers. The Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT 90) provides that minister provisions are permanent while religious workers must have adjusted their status by October 1, 1994. This sunset provision for religious workers has been extended several times.
Additionally, there is no numerical limit on the number of ministers who can immigrate or adjust their status. There is a yearly limit of 5,000 for all other religious workers.