Religious Workers Must Show Two Years' Paid Experience
Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) recently dismissed the appeal of a
petition for a Special Immigrant Religious Worker, finding that the
beneficiary could not demonstrate that she had two years of paid employment
prior to filing the petition. The AAO denied the petition for employment of
a missionary, concluding that the beneficiary did not have the requisite
paid experience. This is a non-precedent case that has not been released.
The Murthy Law Firm did not act as the attorney in either the initial filing
or the appeal to the AAO in this case.
Two Years of Full-Time Work Must be Established Prior to Filing
As regular MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers will recall
from our December 29, 2006 article CSC to Issue RFEs on All
Religious Workers' I-360 Petitions, a foreign national,
seeking permanent residence status as a religious worker, must submit Form
I-360, Petition for an AmerAsian, Widow/er, or Special Immigrant.
The regulation discussed by the AAO requires the beneficiary of the I-360
petition to have been continuously employed by a qualifying religious
organization for at least the two-year period immediately preceding the
filing of the petition. This regulation further requires each I-360 petition
to be accompanied by a letter from an authorized official of the petitioning
religious organization to establish that the beneficiary has the requisite
two years of membership in the denomination and two years of qualifying
experience in the religious vocation or profession.
Facts of this Case
The AAO found that the beneficiary in question had entered the U.S. on a B-2
nonimmigrant visa and had served as a missionary tending to the spiritual
and physical needs of the elderly. The AAO determined that the beneficiary
had not been granted any work authorization and that her past employment was
as an ordained licensed missionary.
In response to a Request for Evidence, the petitioning religious
organization provided proof of the missionary's salary for one of the
required two years of employment. The pay records provided did not indicate
continuous, full-time employment and the petitioner could not provide the
beneficiary's tax documentation. Relying on prior case decisions, the AAO
stated that it requires proof that the beneficiary of an I-360 petition was
employed in the proper religious vocation and profession on a full-time
basis and paid accordingly.
Investigations of Petitioning Religious Organizations
As reported in our December 7, 2007 MurthyBulletin article,
Immigrant Religious Worker Petitions Require Site Visits,
available on MurthyDotCom, the USCIS has implemented stricter anti-fraud
procedures for religious worker immigrant petitions. It is mandating that
each petitioner be reviewed by the Office of Fraud Detection and National
Security (FDNS) before the I-360 petition can be adjudicated.
Adjustment of Status
Once the I-360 petition is approved, the beneficiary may seek to adjust
status to that of lawful permanent resident. The filing procedures for such
applications are available in our December 7, 2007 MurthyDotCom
article, Immigrant Religious Worker Petitions Require Site Visits, where they are discussed
This non-precedent AAO decision emphasizes that the burden of proof in I-360
Special Immigrant Religious Worker cases rests with the petitioning
religious organization. This is not a new development and there are many
such cases. It is a recent reiteration of a long-standing requirement that
must be met in order to obtain success in this type of case.
This article originally appeared in Murthy Bulletin www.murthy.com. Reprinted with permission.
About The Author
Sheela Murthy, et al., attorneys from the Murthy Law Firm, attorneys from the Murthy Law Firm, has represented clients located around the world in all aspects of U.S. immigration. Attorney Sheela Murthy and her team of legal professionals handle cases for Fortune 500 companies, mid-sized and small companies, as well as individuals undergoing the U.S. immigration process.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.
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