O 281416Z NOV 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI IMMEDIATE 4377
UNCLAS STATE 125840
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: NONMINISTER SPECIAL IMMIGRANT PROGRAM EXTENSION
AND CHANGES TO NONIMMIGRANT RELIGIOUS WORKER PROGRAM
REF: 08 STATE 119804; 08 STATE 103504; 03 STATE 2333984
1. Authorization for the nonminister special immigrant religious worker program expired on October 1, 2008. Individuals seeking status as a nonminister special immigrant were required to have applied for and be admitted in such status by October 1, 2008.
2. Section 2(a) of the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program Act (Pub. L. No. 110-391) conditionally extends the sunset date for the nonminister special immigrant program to March 6, 2009. Section 2(d) makes the extension of sunset conditional upon the Department of Homeland Security's publication of final regulations aimed at eliminating or reducing fraud related to the program. On November 26 the Department of Homeland Security published amended religious worker regulations. The new rules are effective immediately. Adjudications of nonminister special immigrant visas may resume immediately. Visas may only be issued with a validity date that expires on March 6, 2009.
3. The new regulations published by the Department of Homeland Security require that sponsoring employers must file I-129 petitions for all aliens for whom R-1 nonimmigrant status is sought. Self-petitions will not be accepted. Effective immediately, no R-1 nonimmigrant visa may be issue to an alien who is not the beneficiary of an approved I-129 petition for R-1 classified filed by the employer. Approvals must be verified through PIMS, the Petition Information Management Service.
4. The Foreign Affairs Manual will be amended to reflect the new regulations. The new 9 FAM 41.58 notes will follow by Septel, when available.