R-1 Religious Workers, R-2 spouse and children of R-1
Ohio denomination of international faith group filed R-1 religious worker petition on behalf of a minister from South Africa. The petition was put together and filed via premium processing due to the Church’s previous work site visit by USCIS/ICE pursuant to a previous R-1 petition on a different foreign minister’s behalf. The congregation is pleased to learn that the R-1 petition was approved in a matter of days and now the minister and his family are seeking a visa application date in Johannesburg. Attorney Lori A. Pinjuh prepared this case.
R-1 appeal and RFE response: Chinese religious minister: A Chinese Christian missionary minister and a local church leader came to our office last May with a biggest R-1 visa denial, denying everything about the petitioning church and the beneficiary under all R-1 visa requirements. The Petitioner is a missionary group who wanted to petition the R-1 visa for the beneficiary to work with the local church. The case was originally filed by a law firm in New York. Because there seemed to be no hope at all left on the denial, the law firm advised the beneficiary to leave US before accruing 180 days of overstay, which was coming up soon. ( OPT expired in Feb. 2010) Neither the petitioner nor the Beneficiary wanted the beneficiary to leave. They did not see any chance for him to come back to the US once he left.
I-360 religious worker/ I-485 for Buddhist Monk: our office was contacted in April 2008 to provide green card evaluation for a religious leader of a newly established Buddhist group. After we talked to him, we were very impressed/fascinated with his personal and religious background, his education and career but in the meanwhile very puzzled by how he had worked in the United States. He just worked, everywhere, upon request and invitation. The organization was so loosely structured, no 501 ( c) (3) determination although it was/is a religious organization, and the leader was like a travelling star working at many Buddhist centers in the U.S. and foreign countries each of which is a separate business entity. We really believed that this religious leader could get a movie deal faster than a green card. To help with his green card application, we spent a lot of time studying their religious activities, figuring out his employment history, and exactly how he was compensated and also helped the group with the 501 (c) (3) filing. We filed the case in May 2008, and submitted more evidence in Sept. 2008. In Feb. 2009 the I-360 was approved. We also had two other religious workers' I-360 approved for the same group. In June 2009, we filed the I-485 for this client and helped him clarified a historical issue regarding his birth place. In October 2009, with our preparation, he successfully passed the I-485 interview (to confirm his birth place) by USCIS and his I-485 was approved at the same day of the interview.
Our office has not only successfully assisted our religious monks/Buddhists in obtaining their green cards but also successfully in getting the green card for their Chinese translator who works closely with the religious group and performs written and verbal translations for Buddhist teachings to and communications with Chinese groups both in the United States and in other countries. The interpreter is Taiwan national who joined the Tibetan Buddhist group in Taiwan while attending their Buddhist teaching there. We achieved the I-360 approval for the interpreter relying on her many years of membership, volunteer work, employment with the organization and her demonstrated knowledge of and devotion to the religion. Her I-360 was filed in July 2008 and was approved in Dec. 2008 without Request for Evidence. Her I-485 was filed also in Dec. 2008 and was approved in Nov. 2009, again without Request for Evidence.
R-1/R-2s: Religious workers: we filed R-1 for a Hindu Priest and R-2s for family members in October 2007, and did RFE response. The R-1 and R-2s were approved in April 2009.
Please note that after November 21, 2008, the U.S. consulate will not accept R-1/R-2 applications anymore without an I-129 approval from the U.S.CIS and the onsite investigation and other stringent requirements will make religious workers/ministers' cases much harder. In a time like this our office will further demonstrate our expertise and superiority in this area of practice of immigrant law.
A good example of this is that while the petitioner in the above mentioned cases are so pleased that we had helped the Church bring 4 religious workers before the new rules were published they are also looking forward to work with us under the new rule because we have been incorporating almost all the requirements specified under the new rule for all our consular processing and border application R-1 cases for a long time so the new rule would only work towards our advantage in religious worker/ministers' cases. I-360 based I-485: Our office filed a religious worker's visa petition for our Pilipino clients 2007 and the I-360 petition was approved this year. Right after the filing we advised the client possibility of a USCIS' onsite audit and we also made a substantive response to an RFE (Request for Evidence) issued by USCIS. After the RFE response, USCIS audited the religious immigrant visa sponsor which is a missionary organization, and the audit went very well and the I-360 approval was approved soon after. Because the quota was open for special religious workers, we filed complete I-485 (Green card) applications for the beneficiary and all three family members right away and after only 4 months of waiting, all four I-485 applications have been approved with RFE request. The Client and his whole family were so excited to find the green cards in their mail.
Catholic Priest from Africa, who came into to the US under an R-1 visa in 2005 and was referred by his friend to our office for green card application in 2008. We filed his petition in October 2008 and his I-360 was approved in March 2009, in only short 5 months considering the time it also takes for USCIS to do onsite audit at the client's employment location. We file Client's I-485 in May 2009 and his green card was approved and was received in October 2009. The entire process takes only barely one year. The client emailed us recently saying: "I learnt about you from a friend that you do such good job, no doubt about."
I-360 approval for Hindu Priest: We were very happy to be able to help our client with an I-360 religious worker's visa petition and to get the I-360 approved. The employer in this petition came to us about a year ago and asked us to help keep a visiting Hindu priest so he could stay and serve the temple permanently. During the initial conversation, we asked the employer if the temple had ever sponsored an immigrant before. We learned that the Temple filed visa petitions before, but none had been approved before. USCIS and INS did not even consider the Temple as a religious organization although it is recognized by the IRS as non profit and religious. Based on this information and also based on the current visa status of the Hindu Priest, our office did an extensive study of the case including a trip to the Temple to personally inspect the activities of the Temple and its nature of religion. Based on all fact collected we filed the petition to U.S.CIS with clear explanation of the qualification of the petitioner and the qualification of the beneficiary. Nonetheless, we received a big RFE (Request for evidence) asking just about everything there was to ask about a religious organization. We patiently and carefully studied the RFE and suggested every possible way to for the employer to gather information to respond to this RFE and we helped them file it. With our office's help, the employer successfully passed the onsite audit and the I-360 religious visa got approved 2 months later. The employer is very happy about the approval and is also very proud that their temple has been finally recognized by USCIS as a true religious entity right during the onsite visit.
A client from Mongolia married a U.S. citizen and filed her I-130 Petition/I-485 Application. She appeared for her interview with her husband who falsely accused his wife of marrying him solely to obtain a green card. Her application was then denied. She came to our firm for help. We conducted research and found out that our client had entered into a valid marriage with her husband, but he ended up draining her of all her financial resources. He also abused her both verbally and physically on many occasions during the marriage. It was apparent that her ex-husband was using her to get money and for his own physical pleasures. We filed an I-360 Petition for Battered and Abused Spouses of U.S. citizens based on the verbal and physical abuse she received during her marriage. We received a request for evidence asking for more documentation regarding the abuse that occurred during the marriage. We provided significant evidence including affidavits from friends and family, a psychological report, documents to show that her ex-husband took advantage of her financial resources, along with other evidence that questioned the character of our client's ex-husband. The I-360 Petition was approved, and now our client can apply for her green card. Kristie Lumakin and Deborah Lee handled the case for the firm.
Our Canadian client was an expert in faith, and his dedication to his case was a clear reflection of that. As a religious worker, our client first came to our office in early 2006 for an initial consultation regarding an R-1 visa based on a job offer from a local church. Before he came to our office, he had been receiving religious training on a J-1 visa with several religious groups in the United States. Unfortunately, there was a denomination discrepancy between the foreign religious organization our client used to work for and the prospective organization in the United States. After extensive research and a close study of our client's religious background and activities, we were able to successfully establish the affiliation between the two religious entities and thus, successfully secured an R-1 visa for our client. Two years following his service under the R-1 visa, we filed an I-360 for his immigration visa petition. In August 2008, the religious organization passed the on-site visit and the I-360 was approved two weeks later!
Our Korean client was a Seminary student and was offered a job as a Youth Minister with a Korean Church. We saw an opportunity to file an R visa for him, but the problem was that he had not received his graduation certificate nor had he been ordained yet. In May 2007 we filed the R-1 visa petition for him and R-2 petition for his family. They asked us for additional evidence (RFE) which we responded by October 2007. Throughout the waiting period, we constantly followed up by updating information with our client and checking with USCIS. We were also checking if there would be onsite audit conducted by USCIS, as they often do in this kind of petitions. In July 2008, USCIS conducted an onsite audit, and in less than two weeks, both petitions R-1/R-2 for client and family got approved. Our client was very happy to be approved, having experienced the difficulty in getting an R-1 visa approved, given the reviewing procedures, RFE and audits that USCIS is conducting now for these cases.
In May 2007 we filed an I-360 (Religious Worker Immigrant Visa) petition, for a very nice Pilipino client. He had a long history of service as a missionary and minister, and now he had been appointed to work in USA. Even with all his merits, USCIS requested more evidence that we were able to request and gather from overseas. Finally, in May 2008 the petition was approved and our client was able to continue with his service.
In April 2007 we filed and I-129 R-1/R-2 (Non-Immigrant Petition in the category of Religious Worker) for a Pilipino missionary and minister. Our client's petition was approved in May 2008, with no request for additional evidence.
In February 2007 we filed R-1/R-2 (Religious Worker Visa and visa for his spouse and children) for a family of South Korean Nationals who had been residing in the U.S. for many years under an F student visa status. The case went through site audit, but we had all the supporting documents to back up the petition. We received the approvals today, valid for three years.
R-1 Motion to Reopen (MTR): Client hired a local law firm to file her R-1 extension (Religious Worker Visa) in early 2007 and to do the Request for Evidence (RFE) response. However, USCIS never received the RFE response and the case was denied due to abandonment. After learning about our office, the client hired us. Our attorneys and paralegals worked without stop to timely file a MTR. The motion was granted and our client has been given extra time to facilitate more information on the case