Changes are coming to a program that provides special immigrant visas to religious workers in Arizona, including both ministers and non-ministers. People who will be hired for a full-time, paid religious position can apply for immigration or permanent residence. However, while the program will continue for ministers and their spouses, a sunset is scheduled for non-minister religious workers. Prior to the sunset, non-ministers were limited to only 5,000 such visas per year while there is no cap on eligibility for ministers and their spouses.
The visa program for non-minister religious workers was scheduled to expire earlier, but it was extended on Feb. 15, 2019, when President Donald Trump signed a bill that contained a further extension of the program. Under the revision, the program will come to an end on Sept. 30. This means that religious workers who are not ministers and want to adjust their status to become permanent residents or come to the United States must complete the process before that date.
There are several eligibility criteria used to assess applications for this type of special immigrant visa. People must be a member of a recognized religion that has been a non-profit organization in the U.S. for at least two years before the application. They must be coming to work for such a religious organization full-time and for compensation. In addition, they must be able to show at least two years of continuous service and employment in a religious context before applying for the visa.
Many people may be concerned about how the changes to the law will affect their eligibility or how they can apply before the sunset provision comes into effect. An immigration law attorney may provide advice and guidance on the visa program and how people can work to remain in the country or obtain their green cards.