It’s good to write with encouraging news: The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that includes a three-year renewal of the Religious Worker Visa Program.
A broad range of religious denominations and groups use these visas to meet unique staffing needs in areas such as community outreach and social services provision. Many organizations call the visas vital to their work. Rev. John Loum, who directs the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, told us the workers “are of great importance, bringing religious, social, and economic stability to their respective communities.”
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service was one of 20 faith-based organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the National Association of Evangelicals, that in March signed a letter to members of Congress urging the renewal of the program.
That letter and other efforts to keep the program alive seem to have paid off. The Special Immigrant Non-Minister part of the Religious Worker Visa Program was included in S. 3245, a bill the Senate passed August 2, that contained a three-year reauthorization for several immigration programs. Under S. 3245, up to 5,000 visas per year are available to religious workers employed by diverse religious denominations and groups. Now that the Senate has taken a step forward, we are looking to the House of Representatives to do their part.
To learn more about the renewal and its significance, please read the LIRS press release, “Religious Worker Visa Program Wins Renewal in Senate; Time for House to Act.”
We hope that you will join us in reminding Congress of the importance of the Religious Worker Visa Program. You can make your voice heard through our Action Center. It’s time to thank the Senate and urge the House to follow suit!
Image credit: Diliff