infoYu, South & Associates reminds its clients that, as announced previously by the USCIS, the non-minister special immigrant religious worker program is scheduled to sunset on March 6, 2009. Individuals applying under the non-minister category of the program, including family members, must either adjust status to permanent resident or be admitted with an immigrant visa before March 6, 2009.

Who are affected:

  • Only the special immigrant religious workers in professional or non-professional capacities within a religious vocation or occupation that are a “non-minister” type (such as choir music director or other professional or nonprofessional positions).
  • Those affected include spouses and children of these non-minister workers who are accompanying the non-minister worker, or who will ‘follow to join’.
  • If you and your family are already approved under the previous non-minister postion for the permanent residence or entered the US physically on the immigrant visa approval, you and your family are now safe, regardless if you have received the actual “green card” from the USCIS.
  • Those workers entering the United States solely to carry on the vocation of a minister of a religious denomination will not be affected.

What to do if you are affected:

  • If you currently have a pending immigrant petition (Form I-360) with the USCIS that has not been approved, you need to contact USCIS or our office immediately to follow up with the USCIS to request “expeditious processing.”
  • If you currently have a pending adjustment of status application (Form I-485) with the USCIS that has not been adjudicated, you need to contact USCIS or our office immediately, too, to request “expeditious processing.”
  • If you have been approved of an immigrant visa based on a previously approved Form I-360 in the affected group, you must make solid travel arrangement to make sure you enter the United States before March 6, 2009.
  • If your immigrant visa application based on the affected Form I-360 approval, currently still pending at a US Consulate overseas, you need to contact our office IMMEDIATELY to expedite the process.
  • If you are in the process of preparing for filing but have not yet filed the initial Form I-360 and/or Form I-485, you MUST file it immediately and the current policy from USCIS is that USCIS will continue to receive and process Petitions for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) for those immigrant religious workers affected by the upcoming expiration date. USCIS is also, to the extent that it can, expeditiously processing Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) based on approved Form I-360.
  • If you are the beneficiary of an approved Form I-360 petitions for non-minister special immigrant religious workers and you have other qualified family dependents overseas to “follow to join,” you need to contact our office to immediately file the special form known as “Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition” so that they can apply for immigrant visas at the US Consulate overseas, and requesting the special “expeditious processing” is critical because this type of an application traditionally takes a very long time to be processed.

What happens after the expiration date:

  • All petitions and applications that are not adjudicated by the USCIS on or before the expiration date of March 6, 2009 will be suspended indefinitely. In other word, no further actions by the USCIS will be taken on your affected non-approved cases.
  • Absent a Congressional action to extend the program, USCIS will, beginning on March 6, 2009, also reject any such filings received in the categories that are affected by this expiration date, including Form I-360 petitions, Form I-485 and Form I-824 applications filed on or after March 6, 2009 that are based on the expired provisions.

Yu, South & Associates monitors all the legislations and new development in laws that might have an impact on our immigration clients or your US immigration status and needs. We will bring to you in real time all the breaking news and updates as they happen. You may also bookmark our homepage so that you can return here easily in the future to read more about any possible new changes in the law that might have an effect on you and your friends. You can also call the USCIS customer service telephone line directly and here is the number for your immediate convenience: USCIS National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283.

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