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.
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 US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency has a checklist of items that they recommend religious workers seeing a green card and the religious organizations that sponsor these religious workers review. The list is for informational purposes. The religious workers and religious organizations should review all the religious worker green card requirements with an experienced immigration attorney.
It’s critical that religious organizations and individuals who file for a religious worker green card understand the relevant terms. For example, there is a large difference between religious occupation and a religious vocation. Just that one different word – occupation versus vocation - can open up a host of requirements and evidentiary issues.
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.
Our client, a small bilingual church, found an agreeable minister. It thus retained us to secure his status for short-term leadership development and service in the Detroit area.
A church in Cleveland wished to hire a choice religious worker to expand its reach into the Chinese immigrant community and strengthen its existing community building efforts.
A church near Baltimore, Maryland retained Herman Legal Group to secure a capable minister’s permanent resident status for long-term service. We thus filed an I-485 based on employment to achieve our client’s objective.
After five years of service, a church in Ann Arbor, Michigan wished to retain a capable minister for the long run. The church retained Herman Legal Group to secure immigration status for its choice of a religious worker from Taiwan.
Our client, a bilingual church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wished to retain a capable and experienced minister on a long-term basis. Because Herman Legal Group had previously handled this minister’s religious worker status, we were also retained to apply for immigration status for him and his family.