• The Non-Minister Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program extended through Sept. 29, 2009, is in full swing. This program covers special immigrant religious workers in professional and non-professional capacity within a religious vocation or occupation, and provides for a permanent immigration route for these workers via the Form I-360 Immigrant Petition and Form I-485 Adjustment of Status proceedings. Importantly, in order to benefit from the extended program, religious workers' Immigrant Petition and Adjustment of Status proceedings must be adjudicated by the program sunset date of Sept. 29, 2009. If the U.S. Congress does not extend the program past that date, the USCIS will suspend processing for any pending Form I-360 and I-485 proceedings and reject any newly filed permanent immigration proceedings for religious workers.
  • As H-1B petition approvals start coming through, it is important to consider the implications of petitions approved under the "Change of Status" category and, especially, changes of status for foreign students employed pursuant to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization. Now is a good time to review the USCIS's guidance with regard to the 'Cap Gap" regulations for the OPT workers. Please refer to the April 2009 edition of this newsletter for further discussion. In short, any foreign travel plans for beneficiaries of H-1B Change of Status approved petitions should be considered very carefully between now and Oct. 1, 2009 (i.e., the H-1B petition approval effective date).