On Apr 23 2009 by William A. Stock
Can L-1 Visas Be Used By Religious Organizations?
One of the more obscure niches of immigration law practice is assisting ministers and other religious workers in obtaining temporary or permanent status based on their employment in their denomination. After a review by USCIS found a significant number of fraudulent religious worker petitions, new regulations were imposed in late 2008 that make the process of obtaining religious worker visas (R-1 temporary, or “special immigrant” permanent) much more onerous than it used to be. For employees being transferred from their denomination’s organization outside of the United States, might an L-1 visa avoid that new process? I prepared an article on the subject shortly after the new R-1 regulations were imposed, which concluded that the L-1 visa could be used to transfer a worker between parts of a nonprofit organization, but only where the nonprofit organization could prove that both the operations in the US and overseas were under common control of assets. In appropriate cases, the L-1 might prove a useful strategy for transferring a minister or other religious worker from overseas to the US.