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.
Permanent Resident Status for Taiwanese Minister Client: A Church in Columbia, Maryland (a Suburb of Baltimore) Client's Country of Origin: Taiwan Case Type: I-485 Application of Adjustment of Status Based on Employment Date of Application: August 6, 2010 Date of Approval: November 22, 2010 Background: A church in near Baltimore, Maryland retained Herman Legal Group [...]
I-360 Approved for Taiwanese Minister in Ann Arbor Client: A Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan Client's Country of Origin: Taiwan Case Type: I-360 Petition for an Alien to be Classified as a Special Immigrant Date of Application: April 6, 2010 Date of Approval: July 13, 2010 Background: After five years of service, a church in [...]
Immigration Status for Taiwanese Minister Client: A Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan Client's Country of Origin: Taiwan Case Type: I-360 Petition for Alien to be Classified as a Special Immigrant Date of Application: May 6, 2005 Date of Approval: September 29, 2005 Background: Our client, a bilingual church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wished to retain [...]