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Immigrant Petitions; Religious Workers [59 FR 27228 -27229][FR 33-94]
FEDERAL REGISTER CITE:
59 FR 27228 -27229
May 26, 1994
BILLING CODE: 4410-10
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Immigration and Naturalization Service
[INS No. 1436-94]
Immigrant Petitions; Religious Workers
Immigration and Naturalization Service, Justice.
Interim rule with request for comments.
This interim rule amends the Immigration and Naturalization Service (Service) regulations by providing that all persons, other than ministers, immigrating to the United States as religious workers must immigrate or adjust status to permanent residence before October 1, 1994. This interim rule implements section 101(a)(27)(C)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Act) which provides that religious workers who have two years of membership and experience in a religious occupation or vocation qualify as
special immigrant religious workers. By statute, this immigrant category for religious workers expires on October 1, 1994. This rule codifies, in regulatory form, the October 1, 1994 statutory deadline.
This rule is effective May 26, 1994. Written comments must be submitted on or before June 27, 1994.
Please submit written comments, in triplicate, to the Records Systems Division, Director, Policy Directives and Instructions Branch, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW., Room 5307, Washington DC 20536. To ensure proper handling please reference INS No. 1436-94 on your correspondence.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Michael W. Straus, Senior Immigration Examiner, Adjudications Division, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW., Room 7122, Washington, DC 20536, telephone (202) 514-5014.
Section 151(a) of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT), Public Law 101-649, November 29, 1990, created a new special immigrant category for religious workers and ministers by amending section 101(a)(27)(C) of the Act. In order to qualify as a minister, the applicant must be an ordained minister of a religious denomination and have carried on the vocation of minister during the two years immediately preceding the application for admission. Section 101(a)(27)(C) also provides for special immigrant status fo
r persons, other than ministers, who will work in a religious occupation or vocation for a religious organization in a professional or other capacity. Such religious workers must have carried on the religious occupation or vocation during the two-year period immediately preceding the petition for special immigrant status. See Section 101(a)(27)(C)(i)(I) of the Act.
Unlike the provision for ministers, which does not contain a sunset provision, section 101(a)(27)(C)(ii)(II) and (III) of the Act states that the other two types of religious workers must "seek to enter the United States before October 1, 1994." By requiring special immigrant religious workers (with the exception of ministers) to enter the United States before October 1, 1994, Congress clearly intended that this immigrant category terminate or "sunset" on that date. The Immigration and Nationality Act req
uires that a petition be filed with the Service to establish the alien's eligibility for special immigrant status as a religious worker. See Section 204(a)(1)(E)(i) of the Act. The next step in the immigration process is for the alien to enter the United States as a permanent resident or adjust status to permanent residence under the religious worker category. By requiring special immigrant religious workers to immigrate before October 1, 1994, Congress mandated that the entire immigration process for th
ese persons must be completed before October 1, 1994. In other words, in order to immigrate under the special immigrant religious worker category, aliens who are not ministers must have a petition approved on their behalf and either enter the United States as an immigrant or adjust their status to permanent residence before October 1, 1994. On or after October 1, 1994, the Service will lack the statutory authority to accord permanent resident status to a religious worker. The Department of State regulati
ons already provide that an immigrant visa issued to a special immigrant religious worker shall be valid no later than September 30, 1994. See 22 CFR 42.32(d)(1)(ii). This interim rule is consistent with both the statute and the Department of State regulation.
8 CFR 204.5(m)(1) currently states that petitions for professional religious workers and other religious workers must be filed on or before September 30, 1994. For the sake of clarification, 8 CFR 204.5(m)(1) will be amended to provide specifically that aliens must obtain permanent resident status through immigration or adjustment of status on or before September 30, 1994 to qualify under the special immigrant religious worker category.
The Service's implementation of this rule as an interim rule, with provision for post-promulgation public comment, is based on the "good cause" exception found at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) and (d)(3). The reason and necessity for immediate implementation of this interim rule is as follows: Immediate promulgation of this interim rule is necessary to remove any ambiguity regarding the September 30, 1994 sunset date well in advance of the statutory deadline, thereby reminding qualified religious workers other than
ministers and sponsoring religious organizations of the need to complete the permanent residence process if they wish to immigrate pursuant to section 203(b)(4) of the Act.
Regulatory Flexibility Act
The Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), has reviewed this regulation and by approving it certifies that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This rule merely clarifies a statutory deadline for a limited number of aliens to become special immigrant religious workers.
Executive Order 12866
This rule is not considered by the Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, to be a "significant regulatory action" under Executive Order 12866, Sec. 3(f), Regulatory Planning and Review, and the Office of Management and Budget has waived its review process under section 6(a)(3)(A).
Executive Order 12612
The regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 12612, it is determined that this rule does not have sufficient Federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.
Executive Order 12606
The Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service certifies that she has addressed this rule in light of the criteria in Executive Order 12606 and has determined that it will have no effect on family well-being.
List of Subjects in
8 CFR Part 204
Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Employment, Immigration, Petitions.
Accordingly, part 204 of chapter I of title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:
PART 204--IMMIGRANT PETITIONS
1. The authority citation for part 204 continues to read as follows:
8 U.S.C. 1101, 1103, 1151, 1153, 1154, 1182, 1186a, 1255; 8 CFR part 2.
2. In Sec. 204.5, paragraph (m)(1) is amended by revising the last sentence to read as follows:
Sec. 204.5 Petitions for employment-based immigrants.
--(1) * * * Professional workers and other workers must obtain permanent resident status through immigration or adjustment of status on or before September 30, 1994, in order to immigrate under section 203(b)(4) of the Act as section 101(a)(27)(C) special immigrant religious workers.
May 11, 1994
Commissioner,Immigration and Naturalization Service.