USCIS Advises Certain Religious Workers to File Their Adjustment Applications Before August 31, 2009

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) has advised special immigrant religious workers under the Ruiz-Diaz class action lawsuit to file their adjustment applications before the end of August 2009.

As background, USCIS current regulations prohibit the simultaneous filing of both a special immigrant religious worker immigrant visa petition and the foreign national religious worker’s adjustment of status application. Instead, the special immigrant religious worker visa petition must be filed first, and once approved, the foreign national religious worker may file to adjust status in the United States.

In the Ruiz-Diaz class action litigation, the District Court for the Western District of Washington entered an order on June 11, 2009, finding that the prohibition on concurrent filings was invalid and unenforceable as applied to religious workers. The Court ordered the USCIS to accept properly filed simultaneous filings of both the special immigrant religious worker petition and the foreign national’s application to adjust status. It further ordered USCIS to provide notice to each person or entity who has a pending religious worker immigrant visa petition. The Order permits foreign national religious workers who are either ministers or non-ministers to file for adjustment of status based on a pending or approved special immigrant religious worker petition, or to simultaneously file both a petition and an adjustment application concurrently.

Unfortunately, visa numbers for religious workers become unavailable in September 2009. Those religious workers who do not file before the August 2009 cut-off date must wait until visa numbers become available again on or after October 1, 2009.

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