Key Timing Considerations for Foreign Religious Workers - Part 2


In our previous blog post we began a discussion of key timing considerations for religious workers.  Our next practice tip with regard to timing concerns the ability to use the USCIS Premium Processing Service to expedite adjudication of R-1 petitions. 

Initial R-1 petitions can take several months to adjudicate and cannot be expedited via Premium Processing, because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) must conduct a site inspection, or a visit to the religious institution sponsoring the prospective foreign worker.  This visit is not necessary if one has already been conducted at the sponsoring organization.  This is why an R-1 extension can typically be filed via Premium Processing and adjudicated very quickly. 

Another unique rule for R-1 petitions is the ability to file more than six months in advance of the proposed start date.  The general rule articulated in the instructions to Form I-129, the form required for R-1 petitions, states that a petition may not be filed more than six months in advance of the date employment is scheduled to begin.  This is a problem, because regular processing for R-1 petitions typically runs between 4 and 6 months.  If there is a request for evidence, it could well take over six months to get a final decision.  Fortunately, a close review of the Adjudicator Field Manual, 34.5(l), the USCIS’ instructional manual utilized by adjudicating officers, reveals that R-1 petitions in particular may be filed more than six months in advance of the scheduled employment start date.

Our next blog post will conclude this series with a discussion of I-360 petitions for permanent residence on behalf of religious workers.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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