Two US immigration categories to expire; Senate may grant extension

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United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated that two non-minister categories in the Special Immigrant Religious Worker program will expire on 01 October 2008. The expiration date may be extended if legislation, which has already passed the United States House of Representatives, passes the U.S. Senate.

The two expiring categories within the Special Immigrant Religious Worker program are for religious workers in "professional or non-professional capacities within a religious vocation or occupation". The expiration date of 01 October 2008 will also affect accompanying spouses and children of religious workers.

USCIS will continue to accept applications under this program. Individuals applying to serve in these two affected categories must either adjust their status to permanent residence or apply for, and be admitted with, an immigrant visa before 01 October 2008. USCIS stated that it would attempt to fast-track applications for permanent residence to the best of its ability for those affected by the expiration date.

People applying under the Special Immigrant Religious Worker program to work solely as a minister of a religious denomination are not impacted by the expiration date.

On 14 April 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would extend the expiration date. The U.S. Senate is currently considering similar legislation which, if passed, would allow those with approved Special Immigrant forms (form I-360) to file for permanent residence (form I-485).

If the United States Congress does not extend the expiration date, USCIS will hold all pending applications "in abeyance" on and after 01 October 2008 until further notice. Any Special Immigrant and status adjustment applications that are received on and after 01 October 2008 that are affected by the expiration date will be rejected.