Thursday, September 29, 2016

UPDATED Deadline: tomorrow. Priority: urgent!

If you are following a link from yesterday, please be aware that the law in question was, thankfully, renewed--for another year only. This is how the non-minister religious immigrant law has been extended (one year at a time). This year, however, the full quota of visas have already been filled for a number of countries, including Mexico and India. You won't be surprised to learn that many seminarians, novices and vowed sisters from these two countries are in the US to study, prepare for vows or serve people in a variety of ways. Unfortunately (and this affects us Paulines directly, too), no sisters or novices (etc) from these two countries will be able to get into the US this coming year.

So read on. You can still call your Senator or Representative to urge that the law be made permanent so that ministries are not put on hold, or novices kept from progressing in their vocation, by the on-again, off-again way the "non minister religious immigration" law has been maintained.

- - - - - 


We just got this important information about a law that is about to expire: tomorrow. It is urgent for many religious congregations, including the Daughters of St Paul, that this law be renewed and in fact, made permanent. As it stands, tomorrow the sisters who are here with us, helping us in our mission, will be forced to return to their countries when their current visas expire: they will not even have the option of applying for a "green card" that will let them continue serving here. And yet their presence is urgently needed and extraordinarily valuable.

One of the sisters who would be
affected if the law expires.
While the numbers of young men in seminaries and young women in religious formation is solid and may even be growing, there are not sufficient numbers of ministry personnel to meet present needs, never mind "go out to the peripheries," as Pope Francis urges. Parishes and institutions benefit from the ministry of foreign sisters. Think of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity alone! All of these parishes, institutions and services will be affected if the law is allowed to expire.

Please call Congress NOW (info below) to extend the non-minister special immigrant religious worker laws.

Find Your Representative
Members of the Senate

- - - - - - -
Details here:

Thanks to our friends at the Resource Center for Religious Institutes (RCRI) for alerting us to the fact that an important law that allows religious brothers, sisters, and lay workers to become permanent residents will expire September. 30 -- unless Congress acts!

We have until September 30, 2016 to convince Congress to extend the non-minister special immigrant religious worker visa provisions. It is this provision that permits non-ordained religious workers to become legal permitted residents of the United States. If this provision doesn't get extended, thousands of religious brothers and sisters and non-consecrated lay workers will be forced to leave the U.S when their R-1 visas expire.  As you know, non-minister religious workers play an important role in the life of the Church and in ministry to those in need.

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows qualified "special immigrants" to come to the United States and work in their religious ministries. The religious worker section of the law was originally enacted in 1990 and has been renewed multiple times, but has never been made a permanent law. Rather, the law has a "sunset provision" meaning it must be renewed every few years by Congress. In 2015, a permanent solution was proposed. Unfortunately, that version failed and a one-year extension was granted.

QUICK FACTS
In 1990, Congress enacted a law allowing non-clergy religious workers to obtain permanent residence (green cards) to work in their religious ministries in the United States.
Instead of enacting a permanent solution, Congress has just extended the law each time it is due to expire.
Last year, the law was extended for one year and expires September 30, 2016.
After September 30, religious workers will no longer be able to get green cards and will be forced to leave the U.S. when their R-1 visas expire.

YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE-PLEASE TAKE ACTION! 
Sign a petition asking Congress to extend the law allowing non-clergy workers to get permanent residence and continue their ministry in the United States.
Send a letter to your members of Congress. Please edit the letter to make it as personal as possible.
Call your members of Congress-Representative and Senators
o    US Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121
o    Suggested Message:  Here again please edit the message to make your call as specific to your congregation as possible.
 

I'm a constituent.  I'm calling to ask Congress to enact a law allowing non-clergy religious workers to obtain permanent residence (green cards) to work in their religious ministry in the United States. We need a permanent solution-another extension is not enough.

After September 30, religious workers will no longer be able to obtain green cards and will be forced to leave the U.S. when their R-1 visas expire. This program has been of great benefit to our religious community and the vulnerable populations we serve. Without the Non-Minister Permanent Residence program, religious institutes like ours, will be unable to bring our own sisters to this country to staff our religious institutions and attend to the urgent needs of the people we serve.

Can I count on [the Senator/Representative] to support the enactment of a law allowing non-clergy religious workers to obtain permanent residence (green cards) to work in their religious ministries in the United States?

Remember, the deadline for the law is September 30, 2016, so time is of the essence. 

Thank you!


Ann Scholz, SSND, PhD
Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

3 comments:

Deacon Greg Kandra said...

The law apparently won a last minute reprieve.

http://globalsistersreport.org/news/trends/visa-program-allowing-religious-workers-apply-us-residency-set-expire-42506

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Thanks so much for the update (and the relief it brings!).

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Thanks so much for the update (and the relief it brings!).