[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 229 (Wednesday, November 26, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 72275-72297]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-28225]



[[Page 72275]]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Part VIII





Department of Homeland Security





-----------------------------------------------------------------------



U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services



-----------------------------------------------------------------------



8 CFR Parts 204, 214 and 299



Special Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Religious Workers; Special Immigrant 
Nonminister Religious Worker Program Act; Final Rule and Notice

Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 229 / Wednesday, November 26, 2008 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 72276]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

8 CFR Parts 204, 214 and 299

[CIS No. 2302-05; DHS Docket No. USCIS-2005-0030]
RIN 1615-AA16


Special Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

AGENCY: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This final rule amends U.S. Citizenship and Immigration 
Services (USCIS) regulations to improve the Department of Homeland 
Security's (DHS's) ability to detect and deter fraud and other abuses 
in the religious worker program. This rule addresses concerns about the 
integrity of the religious worker program by requiring religious 
organizations seeking the admission to the United States of 
nonimmigrant religious workers to file formal petitions with USCIS on 
behalf of such workers. This rule also implements the Special Immigrant 
Nonminister Religious Worker Program Act requiring DHS to issue this 
final rule to eliminate or reduce fraud in regard to the granting of 
special immigrant status to nonminister religious workers. The rule 
emphasizes that USCIS will conduct inspections, evaluations, 
verifications, and compliance reviews of religious organizations to 
ensure the legitimacy of the petitioner and statements made in the 
petitions. This rule adds and amends definitions and evidentiary 
requirements for both religious organizations and religious workers. 
Finally, this rule amends how USCIS regulations reference the sunset 
date by which special immigrant religious workers, other than 
ministers, must immigrate or adjust status to permanent residence.

DATES: Effective date: This rule is effective November 26, 2008.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emisa Tamanaha, Adjudications Officer, 
Business and Trade Services, Service Center Operations, U.S. 
Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 
111 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20529, 
telephone (202) 272-1505.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

BFA--Benefit Fraud Assessment
DHS--Department of Homeland Security
FDNS--Fraud Detection and National Security
GAO--Government Accountability Office
ICE--U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
INA--Immigration and Nationality Act
IRC--Internal Revenue Code of 1986
IRS--Internal Revenue Service
RFRA--Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
USCIS--U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

I. Background

    The United States has a long history of allowing aliens into the 
United States for the purpose of performing religious work. Significant 
evidence indicates, however, that the current rules governing the 
immigration of religious workers do not adequately prevent individuals 
from seeking admission to the United States through fraud. USCIS is 
implementing requirements under this final rule to allow the Federal 
government, as well as religious organizations, to better detect and 
deter fraud or other abuses of the religious worker program without 
compromising the many contributions made by nonimmigrant and immigrant 
religious workers to religious organizations in the United States.
    Aliens may apply for religious worker status in the United States 
as either nonimmigrants or special immigrants under sections 
101(a)(15)(R) and (27)(C) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act 
(INA) and USCIS regulations. See 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(R) and (27)(C); 8 
CFR 204.5(m), 214.2(r). A nonimmigrant religious worker (R-1) may only 
be admitted to the United States for a period not to exceed five years. 
The spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 of a 
nonimmigrant granted R-1 status can be admitted to the United States as 
R-2 nonimmigrants in order to accompany, or follow to join, the 
principal R-1 alien. R-2 nonimmigrants, however, may not accept 
employment while in the United States under R-2 nonimmigrant status. 8 
CFR 214.2(r)(8).
    Aliens classified as special immigrant religious workers are 
eligible for admission to the United States as permanent residents. The 
spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 of a special 
immigrant religious worker also are eligible to apply for permanent 
residence by virtue of the worker's acquisition of permanent residence. 
INA section 101(a)(27)(C), 8 U.S.C. 1101(27)(C). However, to immigrate 
under the special immigrant religious worker category, aliens who are 
not ministers must have a petition approved on their behalf and either 
enter the United States as an immigrant or adjust their status to 
permanent residence while in the United States by no later than 
September 30, 2008. Section 101(a)(27)(C)(ii)(II) and (III) of the Act, 
8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(C)(ii)(II) and (III). The sunset date, the final 
date by which special immigrant religious workers, other than 
ministers, must immigrate or adjust status to permanent residence only 
applies to special immigrant workers in a religious vocation or 
occupation; it does not apply to the nonimmigrant religious worker 
category or to special immigrant ministers.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ This sunset date, for special immigrant nonminister 
religious workers was initially implemented in 1990, has been 
extended four times. This provision expired on October 1, 2008. The 
Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program Act, S. 3606, 
Public Law No. 110-391 (October 10, 2008) extends the program to 
March 6, 2009 contingent, in part, upon promulgation of this rule to 
``eliminate or reduce fraud related to the granting of special 
immigrant status'' to nonminister religious workers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To qualify for religious worker status, the alien, whether a 
special immigrant or nonimmigrant, must have been a member of a 
religious denomination having a bona fide, non-profit religious 
organization in the United States. The applicant must have been a 
member of the religious denomination for at least two years preceding 
application for religious worker status. The alien also must plan to 
work as a minister of the denomination or in a religious occupation or 
vocation for a bona fide, non-profit religious organization (or a tax-
exempt affiliate of such an organization). Examples of persons working 
in religious occupations or vocations that may be eligible for 
religious worker visas currently include, but are not limited to, 
workers in religious hospitals or healthcare facilities, religious 
counselors, cantors, or missionaries. This group does not include 
maintenance workers, clerical workers or persons solely involved in 
fundraising.
    Under current USCIS regulations, special immigrants seeking 
religious-worker status must be sponsored by an employer who submits a 
petition on behalf of the alien. 8 CFR 214.2(r)(3). USCIS must approve 
the petition before the alien is granted special immigrant status.
    USCIS does not currently require, however, that a nonimmigrant 
living outside of the United States file a petition to obtain a 
religious worker visa (R-1). At present, an alien can initiate an R-1 
classification at a consular office overseas through application for an 
R-1 visa (without any prior approval of a petition by USCIS). In 
addition, aliens from Visa Waiver Program countries do

[[Page 72277]]

not have to obtain a visa to travel within the United States under 
Sec.  217 of the INA. Those visa-exempt aliens are admitted (assuming 
eligibility and admissibility) into the United States when they present 
themselves at a port of entry.
    In March 1999, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) 
identified incidents of fraud in the religious worker program. GAO, 
ISSUES CONCERNING THE RELIGIOUS WORKER VISA PROGRAM, Report GAO/NSIAD-
99-67 (March 26, 1999). The report stated that the fraud often involved 
false statements by petitioners about the length of time that the 
applicants were members of the religious organizations, the 
petitioners' qualifying work experience and the positions being filled. 
The report also noted problems with applicants making false statements 
about their qualifications and exact plans in the United States. In 
2005, USCIS's Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) 
estimated that approximately one-third of applications and petitions 
filed for religious worker admission were fraudulent. FDNS found that a 
significant number of the fraudulent petitions identified had been 
filed on behalf of non-existent organizations. FDNS also found a 
significant number of petitions that contained material 
misrepresentations in the documentation submitted to establish 
eligibility.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ A summary of the USCIS FDNS Religious Worker Benefit Fraud 
Assessment was posted out the docket for this rulemaking action and 
can be found at http://www.regulations.gov or http://www.cis.gov.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To address these concerns and minimize, if not eliminate, the 
potential for fraud and abuse in the religious worker program, USCIS 
issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on April 25, 2007 (NPRM or 
proposed rule), proposing amendments to the religious worker program. 
72 FR 20442. Some of the changes proposed under the NPRM included:
     Requiring sponsoring employers to submit all petitions for 
religious worker status, rather than allowing the aliens to submit 
these petitions. Under the proposed petitioning process, USCIS would 
have the opportunity to verify the sponsoring employer and terms of 
employment before approving the petition.
     Providing notice of USCIS's intent to conduct on-site 
inspections as part of the petition approval process. This would allow 
USCIS to verify the legitimacy of the sponsoring employer and the terms 
of employment.
     Requiring that a religious worker (unless the alien has 
taken a vow of poverty or similar commitment) be compensated by the 
employer in the form of a salary or stipend, room and board or other 
support that can be reflected in verifiable Internal Revenue Service 
(IRS) documents.
     Adding or amending regulatory definitions to describe more 
clearly the regulatory requirements.
     Establishing additional evidentiary requirements for the 
petitioning employers and prospective religious workers.
     Adjusting the date by which special immigrant religious 
workers, other than ministers, must immigrate or adjust status to 
permanent residence. Congress extended this date to October 1, 2008, 
and the NPRM proposed to recognize this new date by referring to the 
relevant statutory provision.
    USCIS received 167 comments during the public comment period for 
this rulemaking action. USCIS considered the comments received in the 
development of this final rule.

II. Summary of the Final Rule

    The final rule adopts many of the requirements set forth in the 
proposed rule. The rationale for the proposed rule and the reasoning 
provided in the preamble to the proposed rule remain valid and USCIS 
adopts the reasoning in the preamble of the proposed rule in support of 
the promulgation of this final rule.
    USCIS made several changes based on the comments received. The 
significant provisions of the final rule and changes from the NPRM are 
summarized below and discussed in Section III ``Responses to Public 
Comments on the Proposed Rule.''
    In addition, for ease of reference, USCIS duplicated definitions 
where both the immigrant worker and nonimmigrant worker provisions used 
the same words or phrases. Therefore, definitions such as ``bona fide 
non-profit religious organization in the United States,'' ``religious 
denomination,'' and ``minister'' are identical in both 8 CFR 
204.5(m)(5) and 8 CFR 214.2(r)(3).

A. Petitioning and Attestation Requirements

    The NPRM proposed to require that all aliens seeking religious 
worker status--whether as special immigrants or nonimmigrants--must 
have a sponsoring employer or organization submit a petition on the 
aliens' behalf. This final rule retains the petitioning requirement, 
but continues to allow an alien seeking special immigrant religious 
worker status to submit a petition (Form I-360) on his or her behalf. 
New 8 CFR 204.5(m)(6). A nonimmigrant alien seeking R-1 status cannot 
self-petition, but must have an employer submit a petition (Form I-129) 
on his or her behalf. 8 CFR 214.2(r)(7). By implementing the petition 
requirement, USCIS seeks to preserve the integrity of the program at 
the outset by denying the petition for fraud or other ineligibility 
factors. It also allows both USCIS and the petitioning religious 
employer to respond to derogatory information revealed by on-site 
inspections before the petition is denied.
    In addition to filing the required form and associated petitioning 
fee, under this final rule, an authorized official of the petitioning 
employer must attest to a number of factors; including, but not limited 
to: (i) That the prospective employer is a bona fide non-profit 
religious organization or a religious organization which is affiliated 
with the religious denomination and is exempt from taxation; (ii) the 
number of members of the prospective employer's organization, the 
number of aliens holding religious worker status (both special 
immigrant and nonimmigrant) and the number of petitions filed by the 
employer for such status within the preceding five years; (iii) the 
complete package of salaried or non-salaried compensation being offered 
and a detailed description of the alien's proposed daily duties; and 
(iv) that an alien seeking special immigrant religious worker status 
will be employed at least 35 hours per week and an alien seeking 
nonimmigrant religious worker status will be employed for at least 20 
hours per week. See e.g., new 8 CFR 204.5(m)(7); 214.2(r)(8).

B. Denial, Revocation and Appeals Processes

    This final rule adds a provision for a petitioner to appeal the 
denial of a nonimmigrant petition. New 8 CFR 214.2(r)(17). This final 
rule also adds a process for USCIS to revoke a nonimmigrant religious 
worker petition at any time, and a process for the petitioner to appeal 
a determination by USCIS to revoke the petition. New 8 CFR 214.2(r)(18) 
and (19). These appeal and revocation procedures have been added to the 
final rule, although they were not published for public comment in the 
proposed rule, to ensure consistency among the employment-based 
nonimmigrant visas. The nonimmigrant visa classifications at 8 CFR 
214.2(h), (l), (o), (p), and (q) provide appeal and revocation

[[Page 72278]]

procedures similar to those added by this rule. Using the same 
standards for all employment-based nonimmigrant visas will ensure a 
fair and uniform process. Furthermore, adding revocation procedures to 
the final rule will enable USCIS to take immediate action against 
nonimmigrants who submit fraudulent petitions or engage in fraudulent 
activities while in the United States. Implementation of these 
revocation procedures will safeguard the interests of petitioners as 
there is an appeal process for petitions revoked on notice and an 
appeal process for petitions that are denied.

C. IRS Determination Letter

    USCIS also is retaining the requirement proposed in the NPRM that a 
petitioner must file a determination letter from the Internal Revenue 
Service (IRS) of the tax-exempt status of the petitioning religious 
organization under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 
501(c)(3). USCIS acknowledges that obtaining a determination letter 
from the IRS will require the organization to pay a user fee to IRS. 
If, however, the organization has already obtained a determination 
letter, those letters do not expire and the organization does not need 
to obtain a separate letter for purposes of this rule. An organization, 
therefore, will only need to pay a fee once to obtain the required 
determination letter.

D. USCIS On-Site Inspections

    USCIS is retaining in this final rule the provision that USCIS may 
verify supporting evidence provided by a petitioner through any 
appropriate means, including an on-site inspection of the petitioning 
organization. 8 CFR 204.5(m)(1); 214.2(r)(12). Such inspections may 
include a tour of the organization's facilities, an interview with 
organization officials, review of selected organization records 
relating to the organization's compliance with immigration laws and 
regulations, and interviews with any other individuals or review of any 
other records that USCIS considers pertinent to the integrity of the 
organization.

E. Period of Initial Admission and Extension of Status for R-1 Workers

    Under the INA, nonimmigrant religious workers may be admitted to 
the United States for a period not to exceed five years. INA section 
101(a)(15)(R), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(R). USCIS's current regulations 
provide for an initial period of admission of three years for 
nonimmigrant religious workers, with the opportunity to petition for an 
extension of stay for two additional years. In the NPRM, USCIS proposed 
to change this to a one-year initial period of admission and the 
opportunity to petition for two extensions of two years each. USCIS has 
changed this provision. Under this final rule, nonimmigrant religious 
workers may obtain an initial period of admission of up to 30 months 
and then may obtain one extension of religious worker status for up to 
30 months, for a total of no more than 60 months (the five-year 
statutory maximum) lawful status in the United States as nonimmigrant 
religious workers. See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(4) as amended. As with the 
initial petition for nonimmigrant religious worker status, however, the 
employer must submit the petition for an extension of stay (Form I-
129).

F. Compensation Requirements

    USCIS also clarified in this final rule the compensation 
requirements for nonimmigrant and special immigrant petitions. With 
limited exceptions, the beneficiary of an initial petition for R-1 
nonimmigrant status must be compensated either by salaried or non-
salaried compensation, and the petitioner must provide verifiable 
evidence of such compensation. If there is to be no compensation, the 
petitioner must provide verifiable evidence that such non-compensated 
religious workers will be participating in an established, 
traditionally non-compensated, missionary program within the 
denomination, which is part of a broader international program of 
missionary work sponsored by the denomination. The petitioner must also 
provide verifiable evidence of how the aliens will be supported while 
participating in that program. Petitioners must submit verifiable 
evidence of past compensation or support for nonimmigrants with any 
extension of status request for such nonimmigrants. Special immigrant 
petitioners must submit verifiable evidence of: (1) How the petitioner 
intends to compensate the alien and (2) past compensation or support to 
demonstrate the required previous two years of religious work. See 
e.g., 8 CFR 204.5(m)(7)(xi), (xii) and (10), 214.2(r)(11).

G. Self-Supporting Nonimmigrant Aliens

    The final rule places limits on the ability of uncompensated, self-
supporting nonimmigrant aliens to obtain status as nonimmigrant 
religious workers. USCIS regulations currently do not expressly 
prohibit the admission of uncompensated employees as R-1 religious 
workers. In the NPRM, USCIS proposed to require that a nonimmigrant 
alien obtain a form of demonstrable compensation--either in salary or 
such in-kind support as room and board--and proposed to prohibit R-1 
status for aliens who were not compensated by the organization or were 
self-supporting. 72 FR at 20453. This final rule departs from the NPRM 
by continuing to allow the admission of some uncompensated nonimmigrant 
alien workers under the R-1 visa classification, but restricts such 
admission to those workers who are part of an established program for 
temporary, uncompensated missionary work which is part of a broader 
international program of missionary work sponsored by the denomination. 
Given the great potential for fraud and abuse of the R-1 program that 
arises from allowing the petitioning entity to be exempted from the 
general requirement that it compensate its R-1 workers, it is 
reasonable to restrict sponsorship of self-supporting R-1 workers to 
the narrowest possible class of religious entities that might 
traditionally rely on such workers. Based on the comments received from 
the public, USCIS has determined that class to be the class of 
religious entities directing international missionary programs.
    This final rule defines an established program for temporary, 
uncompensated missionary work to be a missionary program in which: (1) 
Foreign workers, whether compensated or uncompensated, have previously 
participated in R-1 status; (2) missionary workers are traditionally 
uncompensated; (3) the organization provides formal training for 
missionaries; and (4) participation in such missionary work is an 
established element of religious development in that denomination. See 
new 8 CFR 214.2(r)(11)(ii). The purpose of the rule is to detect and 
deter fraud and other abuses in this program. Allowing new missionary 
entities, who have never undergone a site visit and the other 
protections the R-1 program affords DHS, to petition for self-
supporting R-1 workers poses an unacceptable risk. Significantly, as 
discussed below, self-supporting missionary workers who are not 
beneficiaries of a petition filed by an entity with an established 
missionary program, and thus are not eligible for admission to the 
United States as R-1 nonimmigrant religious workers, may still pursue 
admission in the B-1 classification. 8 CFR 214.2(b)(1). See also 9 FAM 
41.31 N9.1.
    In such cases, the petitioner must submit evidence, such as books, 
articles, brochures or similar documents, demonstrating that the 
organization has an established program for

[[Page 72279]]

uncompensated missionary work and that the denomination maintains 
missionary programs both in the United States and abroad. Furthermore, 
the books, articles, brochures or other documents must describe the 
religious duties associated with the traditionally uncompensated 
missionary work. The evidence must include specific documentation of 
the alien's acceptance into the program and set forth any 
responsibilities the alien will assume while participating in the 
program. The evidence should also include copies of the alien's foreign 
and/or U.S. bank records with English translations, as appropriate, for 
the two-year period preceding the filing of the petition, alien's bank 
records, budgets documenting the sources of self-support (e.g. personal 
or family savings, room and board with host families in the United 
States, donations from the denomination's churches), or other 
verifiable evidence acceptable to USCIS. All evidence submitted to 
USCIS is handled in accordance with the Privacy Act and FOIA. To deter 
fraud, USCIS may refer determinations of whether such a program is 
self-supporting or taxable income to the Internal Revenue Service.

H. Definition of ``Religious Occupation''

    The final rule also removes the examples of employment positions 
from the proposed definition of ``religious occupation.'' The listed 
employment positions were only examples, but commenters appeared to 
believe that the examples represented an exhaustive or biased list of 
employment positions that were eligible for religious worker status and 
that the list was tailored only to Judeo-Christian organizations. USCIS 
has removed those examples to eliminate confusion.\3\ The final rule, 
however, clarifies that religious organizations must submit evidence 
identifying religious occupations that are specific to that 
denomination. Additionally, the petitioning organization must submit 
evidence demonstrating that an alien's proposed duties meet the 
religious occupation's requirements.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ The examples provided for ``religious vocation'' however 
remain in 8 CFR 204.5(m)(5) and 214.2(r)(3).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    USCIS also has made changes in the final rule to improve its 
clarity and readability. For example, all definitions are included in 
both 8 CFR 204.5(m) and 214.2(r).

III. Public Comments on the Proposed Rule

    USCIS provided a 60-day comment period for the proposed rule that 
ended on June 25, 2007. USCIS subsequently re-opened the comment period 
for an additional 15 days, from November 1, 2007, to November 16, 2007. 
See 72 FR 61821 (Nov. 1, 2007). In drafting the final rule, USCIS 
considered all comments received during the entire comment period.
    USCIS received 167 comments during the comment period. USCIS 
received comments from a broad spectrum of individuals and 
organizations, including religion-based refugee and immigrant services 
and advocacy organizations, religious groups of varying denominations, 
public policy and advocacy groups with religious affiliations, and 
individuals. Many commenters addressed multiple issues. Many comments 
provided variations on the same substantive issues or were identical in 
content to others.
    USCIS considered the comments received during the comment period 
and all other materials contained in the docket in preparing this final 
rule. All comments may be reviewed at the Federal Docket Management 
System (FDMS) at http://www.regulations.gov, docket number USCIS-2005-
0030.

A. General Comments

    Commenters strongly supported the increased efforts to combat fraud 
in the religious worker categories. Many commenters, however, disagreed 
with the proposed methods to combat such fraud. Some comments 
criticized the USCIS Benefit Fraud Assessment's (BFA) methodology and 
findings of fraud in the religious worker category. Many commenters 
supported on-site inspections as a way of eliminating fraud; however, 
commenters were concerned that on-site inspections might be too 
intrusive or might be required for each petition.
    A substantial number of commenters addressed the definitions in the 
proposed regulation, including the definitions of ``religious 
occupation,'' ``religious vocation,'' ``minister,'' and ``religious 
denomination.'' Some of these commenters suggested that a number of 
definitions were too narrow, because, in the opinion of the commenters, 
they only contemplated workers who are members of Judeo-Christian 
denominations. Many commenters argued that the initial evidence, 
attestation, compensation, and tax documentation requirements were too 
stringent. Commenters objected to the new requirement that petitions be 
filed on behalf of all nonimmigrant as well as special immigrant 
religious workers. The commenters frequently disagreed with the 
proposal to change the lengths of the initial period of stay and 
renewal periods for nonimmigrant religious worker visas. Several 
commenters suggested that elements of the proposed rule violated 
constitutional principles. The specific substantive comments organized 
by subject area are summarized below.

B. Definitions

    The applicable definitions for applicants and petitioners for 
religious worker classification are set forth in 8 CFR 204.5(m)(5) and 
214.2(r)(3). The final rule adds several definitions, and expands or 
clarifies others. The amendments and additions discussed below, unless 
otherwise noted, apply to both nonimmigrants and immigrants. In the 
proposed rule, the definitions were found in the immigrant section, 
with only a cross reference in the nonimmigrant section. However for 
ease of reference, the entire set of definitions is now included in 
both 8 CFR 204.5(m)(5) and 8 CFR 214.2(r)(3).
1. Bona Fide Non-Profit Religious Organization
    Several commenters objected to the proposed requirement that 
petitioners must file a determination letter from the IRS of tax-exempt 
status under IRC section 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), with every 
petition. Commenters pointed out that the IRS does not require churches 
to request a determination letter to qualify for tax-exempt status. A 
designation that an organization is a ``church'' is sufficient to 
qualify for tax-exempt status. Although some churches choose to request 
a formal IRC section 501(c)(3) determination, they are not required to 
do so. In addition, several comments stated that many churches cannot 
afford to pay the fees associated with requesting an IRC section 
501(c)(3) determination letter.
    Many commenters requested clarification of the proposed rule's 
requirement that a petitioner submit a currently valid IRS 
determination letter, pointing out that an exemption letter does not 
expire. One denomination asked that the final regulation specifically 
state that organizations classified as tax-exempt under IRC section 
501(d), 26 U.S.C. 501(d), may qualify as bona fide organizations.
    USCIS recognizes that the IRS does not require all churches to 
apply for a tax-exempt status determination letter, but has 
nevertheless retained that

[[Page 72280]]

requirement in this final rule. See Internal Revenue Service, Tax Guide 
for Churches and Religious Organizations: Benefits and Responsibilities 
under the Federal Tax Law (IRS pub. no. 1828, Rev. Sept. 2006). A 
requirement that petitioning churches submit a tax determination letter 
is a valuable fraud deterrent. An IRS determination letter represents 
verifiable documentation that the petitioner is a bona fide tax-exempt 
organization or part of a group exemption. Whether an organization 
qualifies for exemption from federal income taxation provides a 
simplified test of that organization's non-profit status.
    Requiring submission of a determination letter will also benefit 
petitioning religious organizations. A determination letter provides a 
petitioning organization with the opportunity to submit exceptionally 
clear evidence that it is a bona fide organization.
    USCIS recognizes that some religious groups and churches may be 
classified as tax-exempt under IRC section 501(d), 26 U.S.C. 501(d). 
Unlike an IRC section 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), tax determination 
letter, however, an IRC section 501(d) tax-exempt determination does 
not establish the non-profit status of a religious organization or 
church. The INA requires that the petitioning religious organization be 
a bona fide non-profit organization. INA sections 101(a)(15)(R) and 
(27)(C)(ii)(III), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(R) and (27)(C)(ii)(III). USCIS 
further understands that some churches could ``engage in business for 
the common benefit of the members,'' and their members obtain pro rata 
shares of these funds, which may render the church ineligible for IRC 
section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. As discussed elsewhere, the R-1 
status is not exclusive and religious workers may be admitted under 
other provisions of the INA. However, given the high incidence of fraud 
found in the religious worker program, which was found to be tied to 
the validity of the organization itself, an organization must apply for 
and receive an IRC section 501(c)(3) determination letter to 
demonstrate non-profit status if that organization wishes to utilize 
either the R-1 nonimmigrant or the special immigrant religious worker 
program. If an IRC section 501(d) exempt organization cannot qualify 
for IRC section 501(c)(3) status, and is thus unable to petition on 
behalf of nonimmigrant religious workers under the R-1 classification, 
other nonimmigrant visa categories may be appropriate for that 
organization's purposes, such as the nonimmigrant B-1 category.
    USCIS acknowledges that obtaining a determination letter from the 
IRS will require the payment of a user fee to the IRS, as discussed in 
the proposed rule, if the organization does not possess its original 
determination letter. 72 FR at 20449. USCIS has, however, confirmed 
with the IRS that determination letters do not expire. Therefore, an 
organization will need to pay a fee only once to obtain a determination 
letter. Although USCIS will accept determination letters of any date, 
USCIS may request evidence or confirm that the exemption is still 
valid. For example, if the address on the letter differs from the 
address given in the petition, an explanation should be provided. USCIS 
has retained the reference to ``currently valid'' determination letters 
in the rule text to emphasize that a letter revoked by the IRS cannot 
be used to meet the definition of tax-exempt organization under the 
INA. USCIS will routinely examine the publicly available tax 
documentation for the petitioning organization to determine the ability 
of the organization to provide support, will consult with the IRS on 
whether any petitioning organization is validly exempt from taxation 
under IRC section 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), and may refer to IRS 
Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations, to verify whether the 
determination letter is current.
    USCIS will routinely consult with the IRS on whether any 
petitioning organization is validly exempt from taxation under IRC 
section 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), and may refer to IRS 
Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations, to verify whether the 
determination letter is current. Although existing regulations permit 
applicants to submit material to USCIS regarding an applicant's non-
profit status, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has determined 
that anti-fraud efforts, economy, and efficiency warrant the use of the 
formal IRS determinations, rather than an independent determination by 
USCIS. The IRS routinely makes decisions concerning the non-profit 
nature of organizations seeking tax-exempt status. Furthermore, INA 
sections 101(a)(15)(R) and (27)(C)(ii)(III), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(R) 
and (27)(C)(ii)(III) use specific terminology that indicates the IRS is 
an appropriate agency to make determinations as to whether an 
organization is qualified to apply for religious worker visa benefits.
2. Ministers
    The proposed regulation defined a ``minister'' as ``an individual 
duly authorized by a religious denomination, and fully trained 
according to the denomination's standards, to conduct religious worship 
and to perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of 
the clergy of that denomination.'' Several commenters asserted that the 
proposed definition of ``minister'' was too narrow. The proposed rule 
also required specific evidence of ordination and training the minister 
had received. Several commenters interpreted the new definition as 
requiring ministers to have completed their training at a seminary or 
similar institution. Additionally, those commenters stated that not all 
religions require a formal theological education at an accredited 
theological institution. Other comments suggested that the concept of 
``fully trained'' when referring to a minister's training is too vague 
in the context of a religion that has many levels of training for its 
ministers.
    USCIS did not intend the definition of ``minister'' to require a 
uniform type of training that all denominations would have to provide 
their ministers. In the preamble to the proposed rule, USCIS 
acknowledged that some denominations do not require a particular level 
of formal academic training or experience. See 72 FR at 20445. 
Additionally, the proposed rule recognized that training varies among 
denominations and, for that reason, the question of whether a minister 
has met the denomination's training standards is resolved by reference 
to that denomination's own standards. The rule permits a petitioning 
organization to submit evidence of the individual denomination's 
requirements for ordination to minister, the duties allowed to be 
performed by virtue of ordination, and the denomination's levels of 
ordination, if any. The definition of ``minister'' set forth in the 
proposed rule is retained in the final rule.
3. Religious Denomination
    Many commenters criticized the proposed definition of ``religious 
denomination'' because it required a denomination to have an 
``ecclesiastical government.'' Commenters interpreted this definition 
as potentially excluding denominations whose member religious 
organizations share a common creed but lack a common organizational 
structure or governing hierarchy. The commenters feared that, as a 
result, religious organizations without a central government would be 
unable to hire workers from abroad. However, as explained in the 
preamble to the proposed rule, the definition of ``religious 
denomination'' does not

[[Page 72281]]

require a hierarchical governing structure. 72 FR at 20445. USCIS is 
aware that some denominations officially shun such structures. The 
focus of the regulation is, instead, on the commonality of the faith 
and internal organization of the denomination. Thus, an individual 
church that shares a common creed with other churches, but which does 
not share a common organizational structure or governing hierarchy with 
such other churches, can satisfy the ``ecclesiastical government'' 
requirement of the ``religious denomination'' definition by submitting 
a description of its own internal governing or organizational 
structure. Minor changes were made to the definition as set forth in 
the proposed rule for clarity and the provision regarding group tax-
exemptions was moved to the definition of tax-exempt organization where 
it is more germane.
4. Religious Occupation
    The proposed rule provided examples of qualifying religious 
occupations. Many commenters stated that the list of example 
occupations was too narrow and that the examples applied only to Judeo-
Christian religions. Those commenters suggested broadening the examples 
to account for religions other than Judeo-Christian faiths.
    USCIS acknowledges the commenters' concerns regarding the examples. 
The list was neither exhaustive nor more than exemplary. USCIS has, 
however, removed the list of examples because it created confusion 
about the scope of the definition of ``religious occupation.'' The list 
was only illustrative and not necessary to the rule. As discussed in 
the original rules implementing the religious worker categories, and in 
the proposed rule, the list was derived from the legislative history. 
See 72 FR at 20446.
    When adjudicating petitions, USCIS will rely on the general 
definition of a ``religious occupation.'' Petitioners must demonstrate 
that the occupation relates primarily to a traditional religious 
function that is recognized as a religious occupation within the 
denomination.
    A significant number of commenters opposed the inclusion of all 
administrative positions in the list of positions that may not be found 
to be religious occupations. The comments stated that, unlike secular 
administrators, religious administrators exercise religious leadership 
and policymaking duties that may directly affect the practices of the 
denomination. USCIS generally agrees with the commenters; thus, this 
rule does not disqualify all administrative positions, but only those 
positions that are primarily administrative. Under the rule, a position 
including limited administrative duties may qualify as a religious 
occupation, provided such duties are incidental to substantive, 
traditionally religious functions.
    One commenter was concerned that the proposed regulation excludes 
``those who sell literature'' as a qualifying religious occupation 
because distribution of literature can be an inherently religious 
activity. The notion of canvassing, including selling literature, has a 
long history in the United States and USCIS acknowledges that history. 
USCIS does not agree, however, that selling literature alone is a basis 
for admission of an alien to the United States as a religious worker, 
but has removed ``those who sell literature'' from the list of excluded 
occupations as well as the other non-qualifying examples. Fundraising 
is prohibited from qualifying as a religious occupation, but whether a 
position that involves selling literature may qualify as a religious 
occupation will depend on the evidence submitted.
    USCIS does not intend to limit legitimate religious vocations under 
this final rule, and USCIS will consider all of the relevant law in 
making such determinations. In this final rule, USCIS is establishing 
requirements for determining whether any religious organization may 
seek the admission of an alien into the United States for religious 
vocation and other related purposes under a specific visa 
classification. These regulations are designed to establish the bona 
fide nature of the organization and the occupation under the statute, 
and the petitioning organization is responsible for establishing facts 
supporting its application. Moreover, the petitioning organization is 
responsible for establishing that the specific occupation requires 
specific actions as a part of the beliefs of that organization, and 
that those evidentiary elements must lead USCIS to conclude that any 
limitation in the regulation could not be applied to the applicant in 
light of constitutional or statutory limitations.
5. Religious Vocation
    The proposed regulation defined ``religious vocation'' as ``a 
formal lifetime commitment to a religious way of life.'' Several 
commenters objected to the lifetime requirement, stating that religious 
vocations in many religious denominations do not require a lifetime 
commitment. Thus, some commenters concluded that employees who will 
practice a religious way of life during their proposed period of stay 
in the United States, but who do not necessarily make a lifetime 
commitment to such a life, such as missionaries or novitiates, could 
not qualify as religious workers. Additionally, the commenters 
interpreted the proposed definition of ``religious occupation'' as 
requiring employees to receive traditional salaries, thus excluding 
employees who receive non-salaried compensation such as room and board. 
The commenters also interpreted the ``religious occupation'' and 
``vocation'' definitions as excluding nonimmigrants who rely on self-
support. Due to the confusion over the proposed definitions of both 
``religious vocation'' and ``religious occupation,'' some commenters 
concluded that certain types of religious workers would not be able to 
qualify for visas as they would not be covered by either of the 
proposed definitions.
    USCIS will retain the definition of ``religious vocation'' as 
stated in the proposed rule; however, as explained in detail below, 
clarifications in the compensation requirements for all nonimmigrant 
religious workers were made in response to commenters' concerns. USCIS 
clarifies that, under certain circumstances, non-salaried support may 
qualify as compensation. Additionally, USCIS clarifies that under 
certain circumstances, as explained in detail below, nonimmigrant 
beneficiaries who will be self-supporting may qualify for admission 
under the ``occupation'' or ``religious vocation'' definitions.
    Missionaries and novitiates who cannot be classified as religious 
workers coming to the United States to perform a religious vocation 
because vocations in their denomination do not require a lifetime 
commitment should nevertheless be able to qualify as religious workers 
under the ``religious occupation'' definition.

C. Compensation Requirements

    USCIS proposed to add a requirement that the alien's work, under 
both the immigrant and nonimmigrant programs, be compensated by the 
employer. Specifically, the rule proposed amending the definition of 
``religious occupation'' to require that an occupation be 
``traditionally recognized as a compensated occupation within the 
denomination.'' Commenters were concerned that the proposed rule would 
exclude many religious workers who do not receive salaried 
compensation, but may receive stipends, room, board, or medical care, 
or who may rely on other resources such as personal savings, rather 
than salaried or non-salaried compensation.
    In response to the commenters' concerns, USCIS is clarifying that

[[Page 72282]]

compensation can include either salaried or non-salaried compensation. 
Under the Internal Revenue Code, non-salaried support, such as 
stipends, room, board, or medical care, qualifies as taxable 
compensation unless specifically excluded. See IRC section 119, 26 
U.S.C. 119; 26 CFR 1.119-1 (exclusion for lodging provided for 
convenience of employer). The IRS applies special rules for housing, 
for example, to members of the clergy. Under these rules, clergy do not 
include in income the rental value of a home (including utilities) or a 
designated housing allowance provided to clergy as part of their pay. 
The home or allowance must be provided as compensation for services as 
an ordained, licensed, or commissioned minister. The rental value of 
the home or the housing allowance must be included as earnings from 
self-employment on Schedule SE (Form 1040) if the clergy is subject to 
the self-employment tax. See generally Internal Revenue Service, Social 
Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious 
Workers, Publication 517.
    Commenters objected to being required to submit tax documents to 
demonstrate non-salaried compensation.
    USCIS intends to apply the documentation and determinations made by 
the IRS and the basis for making those determinations as closely as 
possible. USCIS does not possess the expertise to make determinations 
of tax-exempt status or the fine points of gross and adjusted income. 
The comments have not provided a basis for USCIS to make these 
determinations without a record based on the application of the 
existing tax laws to both organizations and individuals.
    Several commenters stated that the proposed compensation 
requirement would exclude programs that traditionally utilized only 
self-supporting religious workers from participating in the R-1 visa 
program. The comments noted that religious workers who are self-
supporting receive neither salaried nor non-salaried compensation; 
instead, they may rely on a combination of resources such as personal 
or family savings, room and board with host families in the United 
States, and donations from the denomination's local churches. 
Additionally, the comments noted that self-supporting religious workers 
are currently admitted under the R-1 visa program. In response, the 
final rule will continue to allow these aliens to be admitted under the 
R-1 visa classification. USCIS will, however, to preserve its ability 
to prevent fraud, permit self-supporting religious workers only under 
very limited circumstances, and, consistent with other provisions of 
the final rule, require specific types of documentation.
    The change provides that if the nonimmigrant alien will be self-
supporting, the petitioner must submit documentation establishing that 
the position the alien will hold is part of an established program for 
temporary, uncompensated missionary work within the organization, which 
is part of a broader, international program of missionary work 
sponsored by the denomination.
    USCIS again notes that the religious worker visas are not the 
exclusive means by which an alien may be admitted to the United States 
to perform self-supported religious work, including missionary work. 
Current regulations specifically provide for the admission of 
missionaries under the general visitor for business visa:

    Any B-1 visitor for business or B-2 visitor for pleasure may be 
admitted for not more than one year and may be granted extensions of 
temporary stay in increments of not more than six months each, 
except that alien members of a religious denomination coming 
temporarily and solely to do missionary work in behalf of a 
religious denomination may be granted extensions of not more than 
one year each, provided that such work does not involve the selling 
of articles or the solicitation or acceptance of donations.

8 CFR 214.2(b)(1). See also 9 FAM 41.31 N9.1. Therefore, self-
supporting religious workers who are not eligible for admission to the 
United States as R-1 nonimmigrant religious workers may pursue 
admission in the B-1 classification.

D. Petitioning Requirements

    The proposed rule introduced the new requirement that a petitioner 
must file a petition on the alien's behalf with USCIS before the 
Department of State (DOS) will issue a nonimmigrant visa to the alien. 
Previously, aliens seeking nonimmigrant religious worker status could 
apply directly to USCIS or, from out of the country, through the DOS. 
Many commenters questioned whether USCIS has the statutory authority to 
require religious organizations to file petitions for nonimmigrants. 
While nothing in the INA specifically states that a petition is 
required for nonimmigrant religious workers, nothing prohibits it. In 
addition, the Secretary of Homeland Security has the general authority 
to promulgate regulations to implement the immigration laws, INA 
section 103(a)(1), 8 U.S.C. 1103(a)(1), and must specifically, under 
INA section 214(a), 8 U.S.C. 1184(a), prescribe by regulation the time 
and under what conditions a nonimmigrant may be admitted to the United 
States. Congress has found it reasonable to implement a petition 
requirement in other nonimmigrant programs. USCIS is implementing the 
petition requirement for nonimmigrant religious workers as a way to 
determine that a minister will be admitted to the United States to work 
for a specific denomination and that other religious workers will be 
admitted to work for a specific religious organization at the request 
of that organization. Requiring a petition for every nonimmigrant will 
also deter fraud and allow USCIS to detect fraud earlier in the 
process. Therefore, the final rule retains the nonimmigrant petition 
requirement.
    This final rule also includes a provision for a petitioner to 
appeal a determination by USCIS to deny a petition. See 8 CFR 
214.2(r)(17). USCIS also is establishing a process for USCIS to revoke 
a petition once granted, and for the petitioner to appeal a revocation 
decision. 8 CFR 214.2(r)(18) and (19).
    Numerous commenters stated that, for various reasons, the new 
petitioning requirement would delay nonimmigrant visa approvals. 
Commenters also said that the Department of State (DOS) has substantial 
expertise adjudicating religious worker visas; consequently, religious 
worker visas are promptly processed (a result lauded by the 
commenters), while still identifying potential fraud. Some commenters 
suggested that, if petitions are required for all religious workers, 
the final rule should limit the amount of time that USCIS takes to 
process the petitions. Additionally, several commenters recommended 
that to speed processing of petitions, USCIS should pre-certify 
religious organizations as valid employers.
    USCIS acknowledges the concerns of commenters that requiring a 
petition for all religious workers could delay issuing a visa. However, 
the petition requirement is essential to preventing fraud in the 
religious worker program. While DOS consular officers do have 
experience with nonimmigrant religious workers, they are not in a 
position to determine the bona fides of a religious organization 
located in the United States. Requiring an approved petition will 
assist consular officers in making a decision on religious worker 
nonimmigrant visa applications. Furthermore, at this time, the USCIS 
California Service Center is processing all religious nonimmigrant and 
immigrant religious worker petitions. This specialization promotes 
expertise

[[Page 72283]]

that leads to prompt processing of religious worker petitions.
    Several commenters asked USCIS to establish a blanket approval or 
pre-certification program for religious organizations. USCIS 
understands the commenters' concerns. A pre-certification process could 
benefit religious organizations and USCIS, by reducing the petitioning 
burden on bona fide non-profit religious organizations. However, the 
proposed rule did not include a blanket approval or pre-certification 
program. USCIS must carefully evaluate how such a process would work, 
establish criteria that a religious organization would have to meet, 
determine a pre-certification validity period, and promulgate 
regulations governing requirements to be pre-certified. An agency is 
not required to adopt a final rule that is identical to the proposed 
rule and in fact agencies are encouraged to modify proposed rules as a 
result of the comments they receive. However, final rules ultimately 
adopted can only include those changes that the interested public could 
view as logical based on what was proposed. In this case, USCIS does 
not believe that the proposed rule provided sufficient notice that the 
final rule may contain pre-certification requirements and will thus not 
adopt the commenters' suggestion. USCIS will consider approaches to 
addressing the issues presented by the comments, including a possible 
future rulemaking to provide for a pre-certification process. The final 
rule does not preclude USCIS from considering the history of an 
organization's petitions in determining whether to grant a specific 
petition, and USCIS may consider that history in each individualized 
consideration.

E. On-Site Inspections

    Several commenters supported on-site inspections that are tailored 
to detect fraud, but do not intrude on religious organizations' 
privacy. However, a number of commenters questioned on-site inspection 
procedures, requirements, and potential consequences. The comments 
stated that the regulations should establish deadlines for USCIS to 
complete on-site inspections; otherwise, petition processing backlogs 
could result. Other comments said the results of site inspections 
should be reviewable. Some argued that the proposed rule provided no 
guidelines regarding the scope of on-site inspections. The undefined 
scope, according to some comments, might encourage overzealousness by 
USCIS or lead to denials solely based on the results of an on-site 
inspection. Commenters objected to the prospect of unannounced site 
inspections.
    USCIS, like all Federal agencies, must carry out administrative 
activities that ensure the integrity of the benefit programs it 
administers. On-site inspections are a useful tool to verify the 
legitimacy of information contained in applications and petitions, the 
continued eligibility for a benefit, and the legitimacy of petitioners. 
Therefore, this rule does not modify the proposed regulations 
pertaining to on-site inspections. If an on-site inspection yields 
derogatory information not known to the petitioner, USCIS will issue a 
Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) the petition. See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(16). 
The petitioner may then submit additional documentation that may rebut 
the derogatory evidence. In addition, a denial of a petition may be 
appealed to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office. See 8 CFR 
204.5(n)(2) and 214.2(r)(13).
    USCIS acknowledges that processing delays occurred when USCIS 
inaugurated the on-site inspection program. As USCIS has gained 
experience with the program, however, delays have decreased. Additional 
resources, including personnel, have been dedicated to the program and 
process improvements. USCIS intends to commit more resources and 
personnel to the program in the near future. To determine the status of 
a petition, petitioners may consult the USCIS Web site or contact the 
National Customer Service Center to obtain the status of petitions. If 
the National Customer Service Center cannot provide an answer, the 
inquiry will be referred to the California Service Center customer 
service division.
    The proposed rule and the final rule use a list of different terms 
to describe the on-site inspections. The list was revised in the final 
rule to include more commonly used terms such as compliance review. The 
intent is not to assign one specific name, but to give notice to 
petitioners that such reviews may be part of the religious worker 
program.
    To allay commenters' concerns about possible abuse of the on-site 
inspection process, USCIS will establish additional communications 
processes for petitioners to report alleged abuses. Information 
regarding this will be posted on the USCIS Web site. Waste, fraud, and 
abuse should also be reported to the DHS Inspector General.

F. Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA)

    Commenters asserted that the proposed regulation would violate the 
First Amendment, Const. of the United States, Amdt. I (1791), and the 
Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, Public Law 103-141, sec. 3, 
107 Stat. 1488 (Nov. 16, 1993) (RFRA), found at 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-1, by 
placing a substantial burden on a religion that is not in the 
furtherance of a compelling government interest, or at least not 
furthered by the least restrictive means. Some commenters stated that 
preventing fraud was commendable but that a compelling government 
interest has not been established. Several commenters said that filing 
petitions for nonimmigrants or having to request an extension of status 
after only one year would place undue financial and paperwork burdens 
on religions. Additionally, the commenters stated that the proposed 
definitions of religious occupation and religious vocation prohibited 
their denominations from utilizing the program.
    USCIS disagrees with the specific notion that the final rule 
violates the RFRA. The RFRA provides:

    Government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of 
religion even if the burden results from a rule of general 
applicability, except * * * if it demonstrates that application of 
the burden to the person--
    (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
    (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling 
governmental interest.

Public Law 103-141, sec. 3, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-1. The final rule is 
intended to permit religious organizations to petition for admission of 
religious workers under restrictions that have less than a substantial 
impact on the individual's or an organization's exercise of religion. A 
petitioner's rights under RFRA are not impaired unless the organization 
can establish that a specific provision of the rule imposes a 
significant burden on the organization's religious beliefs or exercise. 
Further, this rule is not the sole means by which an organization or 
individual may obtain admission to the United States for religious 
purposes, and DHS believes that the regulation, and other provisions of 
the INA and implementing regulations, can be administered within the 
confines of the RFRA. An organization or individual who believes that 
the RFRA may require specific relief from any provision of this 
regulation may assert such a claim at the time they petition for 
benefits under the regulation.
    Nor does this final rule impose a ``categorical bar'' to any 
religious organization's petition for a visa or alien's application for 
admission.

[[Page 72284]]

Instead, the rule sets forth the evidentiary standards by which USCIS 
will adjudicate nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions.
    USCIS also does not believe that the new requirements will reduce 
the diversity or types of religious organizations that practice in the 
United States or the types of religious workers whom religious 
organizations could hire. Changes have been made so that the final 
definitions of ``religious occupation,'' ``religious vocation,'' 
``minister,'' and ``denomination'' will not prevent religious 
organizations from using the religious worker program as some 
commenters claimed. Additionally, rather than the proposed one year 
initial period of admission and two extensions of two years each, the 
final rule permits up to 30 months for the initial period of admission 
and one extension of up 30 months. Therefore, the final rule imposes a 
much smaller financial and paperwork burden on petitioners than the 
proposed rule.
    Eradicating fraud where fraud has been determined to exist in one-
third of nonimmigrant visa petitions, as discussed in the proposed 
rule, is a compelling government interest to ensure the integrity of 
the immigration process as well as for the protection of national 
security. See 72 FR at 20442. Therefore, the final rule retains the 
requirements that a religious organization file a petition for each 
religious worker and submit an IRS determination letter establishing 
the organization's tax-exempt status. Additionally, USCIS will maintain 
the discretion to conduct on-site inspections as USCIS believes they 
are the most effective and least restrictive means of combating fraud 
in the religious worker program.
    USCIS will consider all of the factual evidence presented in 
support of a petition for a religious worker under the provisions of 
the rule. After reviewing the comments and the applicable law, however, 
USCIS does not believe that the evidentiary requirements of the rule 
constitute a violation of the RFRA.

G. Concurrent Filing

    Some commenters suggested that the final regulation provide an 
option for special immigrant religious workers to concurrently file 
Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant, and 
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust 
Status. The commenters asserted that concurrent filing would speed up 
the process of granting permanent residence to religious workers. One 
commenter requested that concurrent filing not be permitted.
    The comments seeking to allow concurrent filing have not been 
adopted. The Department is under a statutory mandate pursuant to the 
Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program Act, S. 3606, 
Public Law No. 110-391 (October 10, 2008), to issue this final rule 
``to eliminate or reduce fraud'' in regard to the granting of special 
immigrant status to nonminister religious workers. The bar to 
concurrent filing is a valuable fraud deterrent in the entire special 
immigrant religious worker program. Prohibiting concurrent filing of 
the visa petition and adjustment of status application for special 
immigrant religious workers dissuades the filing of fraudulent 
petitions by or for ineligible and/or inadmissible aliens who might 
otherwise gain valuable benefits such as employment authorization while 
an immigrant petition is pending. For this reason, the Department 
believes that not allowing concurrent filing in this arena is necessary 
to protect the integrity of the religious worker program for eligible, 
bona fide religious organizations and their eligible employees.
    Concurrent filing was implemented as an accommodation for business 
petitioners and to add efficiency to processing large backlogs for Form 
I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, that adversely impacted, 
among others, aliens wishing to adjust their status in the United 
States who could not file Form I-485 until the Form I-140 was approved. 
67 FR 49561 (July 31, 2002). The policy decision to allow concurrent 
filing for Forms I-140 was based on research into business employment-
based visa programs of the United States. The research showed that 
recruiters found that many talented employees worldwide were 
increasingly unwilling to tolerate the long waits and uncertainty 
entailed in immigrating to the United States. When professional workers 
encounter long delays, United States employers are at a disadvantage 
because foreign job candidates may decide to accept employment in 
countries with more expeditious employment-based immigration programs. 
Concurrent filing has also been allowed if there is a current priority 
date in family-based preference categories or if an alien qualifies as 
an immediate relative. An underlying goal of the family-based visa 
program is the unification of families and concurrent filing supports 
this goal.
    These rationales for allowing concurrent filing are not present in 
the religious worker context. Additionally, USCIS is not allowing 
concurrent filing given the high incidence of fraud in the program. 
USCIS did not propose to allow concurrent filing and has not added 
provisions in the final rule to provide for it. The United States is 
defending its previous decision not to allow concurrent filing of Forms 
I-360 and I-485, and has considered the litigation challenging that 
decision in reiterating that decision in this rulemaking.

H. Nonimmigrant Intent

    The proposed rule would have clarified that an alien may come 
legitimately to the United States for a temporary period as an R 
nonimmigrant, depart voluntarily at the end of the period of authorized 
stay, and at the same time, lawfully seek to become a permanent 
resident of the United States. Several comments were received that 
generally supported this proposed provision. The final rule retains a 
provision on nonimmigrant intent that states that an R classification 
may not be denied solely because a labor certification or preference 
petition, including a Form I-360, has been filed by or on behalf of the 
alien. However, the provision has been rewritten for clarity and 
readability.

I. Changes Unique to the Special Immigrant Religious Worker 
Classification

    The proposed rule recognized that a break in the continuity of 
religious work during the two years immediately preceding the filing of 
the petition would not affect eligibility if the alien had been 
employed as a religious worker, the break did not exceed two years, and 
the nature of the break was for further religious training or for 
sabbatical and did not involve unauthorized work in the United States. 
Several commenters questioned whether the break in continuity would 
also apply to sick leave, pregnancy leave, spousal care, or vacations. 
As these events, for example sick leave and vacation, are typical in 
the normal course of any employment, they will not be seen as a break 
of the two-year requirement as long as the alien is still considered 
employed during that time.

J. Changes Unique to the Nonimmigrant Religious Worker Classification

    Currently, the initial admission period for nonimmigrant 
petitioners is up to three years, with a single extension of up to two 
years. USCIS proposed to reduce the initial admission to no more than 
one year with two potential extensions of up to two years each, not to 
exceed five years total. Commenters strongly objected to the proposed 
reduced period of admission

[[Page 72285]]

and shortened periods for extensions. The commenters expressed numerous 
reasons why this change would be burdensome. For example, filing three 
petitions would markedly increase costs to petitioners, such as USCIS 
form filing fees and legal fees, and the initial one-year admission and 
the two-year extensions would make it difficult to plan hiring needs 
and training programs.
    Commenters made a variety of recommendations: Retain the current 
admission and extension scheme; provide an initial admission of up two 
years with one potential extension of up to three years; or, regardless 
of the lengths of the initial admission and potential extension, adopt 
a pre-certification program. In response to the comments, this final 
rule allows an initial admission of up to 30 months with one extension 
of up to 30 months. Allowing for a maximum period of admission of 30 
months addresses the concerns of the commenters for a longer time 
period and simplifies program administration, as the maximum period 
will be the same whether it is an initial admission or an extension. 
The periods of admission and extension will be granted as determined by 
both the organization's need for the religious worker's services and 
the regulatory limitations. As limited by statute, the maximum total 
period of admission will continue to be five years. See INA section 
101(a)(15)(R)(i), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(R)(i).

K. Fraud Findings

    Some commenters stated that when writing this rule, USCIS should 
not have relied on the GAO Report, Issues Concerning the Religious 
Worker Visa Program, GAO/NSIAD-99-67 (March 26, 1999), and the 2005 
USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) benefit fraud 
assessment report (BFA). Commenters stated that the two reports used 
invalid methodologies, relied on anecdotal evidence, and overstated the 
amount of fraud. Although many commenters criticized the GAO and BFA 
reports, none of the commenters provided alternative statistical 
analyses to demonstrate that fraud is less extensive than what USCIS 
has stated. The BFA conducted by USCIS FDNS used a valid methodology 
and did not rely on anecdotal evidence; instead, the BFA utilized a 
random sample formula provided by the DHS Office of Immigration 
Statistics to establish a statistically valid sampling of cases that 
allowed USCIS to estimate the level of fraud in the religious worker 
program. The BFA sampling consisted of a rate of occurrence of not more 
than 20%, a confidence level of 95%, and a reliability factor of plus 
or minus five percent. The established fraud rate of 33% for the I-360 
Religious Worker program represents a statistically valid figure based 
on generally accepted statistical reporting guidelines. These comments 
also do not suggest specific changes to the rule. The two referenced 
reports support promulgation of this rule and the comments provide no 
evidence and raise no issues that cause USCIS to reconsider these 
conclusions. USCIS did not make any changes to the final regulation as 
a result of these comments.

L. Miscellaneous

    Several commenters stated that requiring petitioning organizations 
to report the number of members of the prospective employer's 
organization and the number and positions, with brief descriptions, of 
employees in the prospective employer's organization would excessively 
burden large organizations. USCIS acknowledges the commenters' 
concerns. However, documenting the number and positions of employees is 
a useful tool for verifying the existence and validity of a prospective 
employer; thus, the reporting requirement has been retained but 
modified to require only the number and a summary of the 
responsibilities of the employees who work at the same location where 
the beneficiary will work. USCIS may still request a detailed list of 
employees and a brief description of their duties if it determines in 
its discretion that such information is needed.
    Several commenters suggested that USCIS reinstate Premium 
Processing for R-1 nonimmigrant religious workers. The Premium 
Processing Service provides faster processing of certain employment-
based petitions and guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time. Due 
to the complexities with adjudicating R-1 visa petitions, USCIS cannot 
reasonably ensure a level of processing service within 15 calendar 
days. Given that USCIS is conducting on-site inspections, USCIS cannot, 
at this time, reasonably guarantee 15 day processing. USCIS continues 
to assess whether it is possible to provide this level of service for 
nonimmigrant religious worker petitions.

III. Regulatory Requirements

A. Administrative Procedure Act

    The Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(d), requires that an 
agency publish a final rule no later than 30 days before its effective 
date. The APA, however, provides an exception to the delayed-effective 
date requirement where the agency has good cause to make the rule 
effective upon the date of publication. As discussed above, the special 
immigrant religious worker provisions of section 274A of the INA, 
expired on September 30, 2008. Under section 101(a)(27)(C)(ii)(II) and 
(III) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(C)(ii)(II) and (III), to 
immigrate under the special immigrant religious worker category, aliens 
who are not ministers must have a petition approved on their behalf and 
either enter the United States as an immigrant or adjust their status 
to permanent resident while in the United States by no later than 
September 30, 2008. Beginning on October 1, 2008, all new nonminister 
petitions and applications have been rejected without prejudice to the 
filing of a new petition or application upon the effective date of this 
rule.
    On October 10, 2008, the President signed into law Public Law 110-
391 ``Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program Act.'' 
This Act extends the sunset date for special immigrant nonminister 
religious workers until March 6, 2009. However, the amendment will not 
take effect until the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies to 
Congress, and publishes a notice in the Federal Register, within 30 
days of enactment of the Act, that this final rule has been issued and 
is effective.
    DHS had determined that it would be contrary to the public interest 
to delay the re-authorization of the special immigrant nonminister 
religious worker program to allow for a 30-day effective date for this 
rule. Accordingly, DHS is making this rule effective immediately upon 
publication in the Federal Register. All cases pending on the rule's 
effective date and all new filings will be adjudicated under the 
standards of this rule. If documentation is required under this rule 
that was not required before, the petition will not be denied. Instead 
the petitioner will be allowed a reasonable period of time to provide 
the required evidence or information.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    For the proposed rule, USCIS estimated that it would receive 
approximately 22,338 petitions annually from ``small entities'' as 
defined under 5 U.S.C. 601. USCIS determined that the cost to a 
religious or affiliated bona fide organization for a religious worker 
petition of $190 represented a small percentage of the organization's 
total annual wage cost for the beneficiary and an even smaller 
percentage of the petitioning organization's overall operating budget. 
Also, the additional

[[Page 72286]]

burden in terms of time needed to complete attestation and 
certification requirements was estimated to be insignificant. 
Additionally, USCIS did not determine the effect on organizations that 
would have to pay application fees to the IRS but invited comments on 
the scope of these costs and more accurate means for defining these 
costs. Therefore, in the proposed rule USCIS stated that any impact on 
religious or affiliated organizations or individuals to comply with 
these requirements is minimal and this rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    USCIS does not foresee the rule having a significant economic 
impact on small entities. Thus, this rule does not put forth 
alternatives to minimize impacts. The rule benefits the United States 
by reducing the risk of fraud in the religious worker program. Cost 
increases, if any, due to the revised requirements are not expected to 
significantly affect entities and thus will not have a measurable 
impact on their ability to carry out religious activities.
    USCIS invited the public to comment on the extent of any potential 
economic impact of this rule on small entities, the scope of these 
costs, more accurate means for defining these costs, ways that a 
religious organization could demonstrate that it meets the rule's 
requirements without providing an IRC section 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 
501(c)(3), letter and without USCIS having to analyze sizeable 
paperwork, and the estimated cost to petitioning religious 
organizations and bona fide organizations affiliated with a religious 
denomination to comply with the new religious worker petition 
requirements and prepare for the on-site inspections. In response to 
those requests, USCIS received a comment on the cost of hiring outside 
parties to prepare petitions. However, USCIS believes that this rule 
imposes no requirements that should increase the need to hire parties 
to prepare and file religious worker petitions. No additional cost 
estimates were provided and USCIS received no additional information or 
data in response to the request for data on the economic impact of this 
rule on small entities, the scope of these costs, or more accurate 
means for defining these costs. USCIS also received several comments on 
the requirement that petitioners submit a copy of the IRC section 
501(c)(3) status determination letter from the IRS, and has responded 
to those and other comments in another section of the preamble to this 
final rule. The significance of the impact of the compliance costs that 
requiring the IRC section 501(c)(3) determination letter adds to 
regulated entities under this rule is discussed below. Several changes 
were made to the final rule as a result of comments received as 
discussed in that section.
    Size of affected entities. This rule affects religious 
organizations under NAICS code 813.110. 13 CFR 121.201 (NAICS code 
813.110--Religious Organizations). The size considered small in that 
grouping is those entities having average annual revenue of under $6.5 
million per annum. While data on the actual average annual revenue of 
the participants in the religious immigrant and nonimmigrant worker 
program is lacking, most of the affected organizations are thought to 
be small entities as defined under the RFA.
    Number of affected entities. USCIS records from the past three 
years indicate that an average of 6.4 workers have been approved per 
organization per year. The total estimated volume of petitions to be 
received by USCIS after this rule is projected at 23,200. Thus, an 
estimated 3,625 affected religious entities will be affected by this 
rule.
    Economic impact per entity. USCIS determined that this rule will 
result in USCIS fee collections increasing by about $4.5 million per 
year and information collection costs increasing by about $1.3 million 
per year, for a total of $5.8 million in added costs. The average cost 
per entity imposed by this rule will be $1,600. Also, this analysis 
assumes that a new IRC section 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), status 
determination letter from the IRS, with a fee of $750, will be paid by 
each entity each year, bringing total costs per entity resulting from 
this rule to $2,320.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Assuming a 100% requirement for this cost will ensure a 
liberal costs calculation for ascertaining the significance of this 
rule's impacts on small entities. Nonetheless, while USCIS has no 
way to estimate how many petitioners will have to obtain IRC section 
501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), determination letters, the actual 
number will be lower than 100% of all petitioners.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Determination of no significant impact. The RFA does not define 
``significant'' or ``substantial'' and Small Business Administration 
(SBA) guidance provides that what is ``significant'' or ``substantial'' 
depends on the problem that needs to be addressed, the rule's 
requirements, and the preliminary assessment of the rule's impact. 
Guidelines provided by the SBA Office of Advocacy suggest that an added 
cost of more than one percent of the gross revenues of the affected 
entities in a particular sector may be a significant impact. The total 
added cost per firm of this rule of $2,320 is 0.04% of the $6.5 million 
threshold for a religious organization to be considered small.
    Guidelines suggested by the SBA Office of Advocacy also indicate 
that the impact of a rule could be significant if the cost of the 
regulation exceeds five percent of the labor costs of the entities in 
the sector. Since the religious worker program is an employment based 
visa program, DHS analyzed the additional costs imposed by this rule on 
the petitioning organizations relative to the costs of the typical 
employee. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual 
salary of clergy is $43,060, for Directors of Religious Activity it is 
$37,570, and for other religious workers it is $29,350.\5\ Based on an 
average of 6.4 religious workers petitioned-for per organization, the 
average annual cost per religious worker petitioned-for by the entity 
will be $363 per worker. Thus, the costs per worker imposed by this 
rule represent only 0.84% of a minister's average salary, 0.97% of a 
Director of Religious of Activity's annual salary, 1.24% of the salary 
for other religious workers, and only 3.1% of the employee's annual 
salary expense if the religious worker is compensated at the Federal 
minimum wage of $5.85 per hour for 2,000 hours per year. Therefore, 
using both average annual labor costs and the percentage of the 
affected religious entities' annual revenue stream as guidelines, the 
additional regulatory compliance costs imposed by this rule are not 
significant. For these reasons, DHS certifies that this rule will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. Accordingly, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 
2006 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. Available 
online at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#b00-0000.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This rule will not result in the expenditure by state, local, and 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 
million or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or 
uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed 
necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 
1995.

D. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 804 of the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act of 1996. This rule will not 
result in an annual effect on the economy of $100

[[Page 72287]]

million or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant 
adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, 
innovation, or on the ability of United States-based companies to 
compete with foreign-based companies in domestic and export markets.

E. Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review)

    This rule has been designated as a ``significant regulatory 
action'' by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Executive 
Order 12866, section 3(f), Regulatory Planning and Review. Accordingly, 
an analysis of the costs and benefits of this rule has been prepared 
and submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. 
That analysis is as follows.
1. Background
    The religious worker program is rooted in the regulation of labor 
markets. The specific market failure addressed by this rule is the 
inability of current program participants to self-police their behavior 
and avoid engaging in acts of fraud and misrepresentation.
    The impacts of having a sufficient or insufficient supply of 
religious workers tend to be more qualitative for the ability of the 
particular religion and its members to carry on its functions, rituals, 
and traditions in the United States. Aside from the need for workers, 
many religions believe it is important for their members in the United 
States to intermingle with their members from outside the United States 
in order for an exchange of ideas to take place and for their United 
States members to receive the intangible benefits that are felt to 
inure from exposure to diverse cultures. The benefits of such a program 
tend to be intangible from an economic standpoint but very concrete to 
devout followers of a particular religion who may be harmed by the lack 
of availability of, or benefit from having, a qualified worker to carry 
out a defined function in their particular faith. This analysis deals, 
however, with only the changes made by this rule, not the benefits and 
costs of the program as a whole. DHS has assessed both the costs and 
benefits of this rule as follows:
2. Recent Figures
    Form I-360. A religious organization seeking a permanent religious 
worker or an alien seeking to perform religious work permanently in the 
United States files Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or 
Special Immigrant, with USCIS. Table 1 shows the number of Form I-360 
filings with USCIS for a religious worker in the most recent three 
fiscal years.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ A religious organization may file petitions for several 
potential religious workers; however, the organization must file a 
separate petition for each worker.
    \7\ USCIS does not know why there has been a precipitous drop in 
the number of Form I-360 petitioning organizations, petitions 
received, and petitions approved in the past three fiscal years.

                         Table 1--Form I-360 Filings for Immigrant Religious Workers \6\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Fiscal year                         2005            2006            2007         Average \7\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Petitioning Organizations......................             308             182              88             193
 Petitions Received.............................           4,466           5,242           4,382           4,697
 Petitions Approved.............................           3,816           2,828           1,086           2,577
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Form I-129. For an alien currently in the United States to work as 
a nonimmigrant religious worker, the religious organization and alien 
may file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. Table 2 shows 
the number of Form I-129 filings with USCIS for a religious worker in 
the most recent three fiscal years.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ Includes Form I-129 filings for extensions of current R-1 
status.
    \9\ Petitions approved in 2007 lagged as a result of uncompleted 
site inspections.

                       Table 2--Form I-129 Filings for Nonimmigrant Religious Workers \8\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Fiscal year                        2005             2006           2007 \9\         Average
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Petitioning Organizations..................            562              493              416              490
 Petitions Received by USCIS................          5,918            5,749            4,370            5,346
 Petitions Approved by USCIS................          4,866            3,685              882            3,144
 Average Number of Workers Approved for Each              8.7              8.9              2.1              6.4
 Organization...............................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Consular or Port of Entry Processing. Aliens outside the United 
States may seek an R-1 visa directly from the United States consulate 
or embassy abroad or, if visa exempt, be admitted to the United States 
as a nonimmigrant religious worker by the United States at a United 
States port of entry. Table 3 shows the number of religious worker 
visas requested and approved by DOS without a petition being filed with 
USCIS in the three most recent fiscal years.

                                Table 3--Religious Worker Visas Processed by DOS
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Fiscal year                         2005            2006            2007           Average
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Petitions Received by DOS......................          12,473          12,944          16,487          13,968
 Petitions Approved by DOS......................           8,538           8,716          10,372           9,209
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    R-2 Visas for Religious Worker Family Members. Table 4 shows the 
aliens granted admission into the United States by DOS as derivative 
family members of religious workers in the three most recent fiscal 
years.

[[Page 72288]]



                                 Table 4--Derivative Family Members (R-2) Visas
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Fiscal year                         2005            2006            2007           Average
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Petitions Received by DOS.......................           5,118           5,017           4,931           5,022
Petitions Approved by DOS.......................           3,267           3,234           3,216           3,239
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For relatives of non-immigrant religious workers currently in the 
United States to receive R-2 status, a USCIS Form I-539, Application To 
Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, must be filed. In 2005, 42 Religious 
Workers filed an I-539 requesting a change of status for family members 
and eight were approved. In 2006, 41 Form I-539 filings were received 
and five were approved; and in 2007, 43 were requested, and four 
approved. Thus, an average of 42 R-2 visas through Form I-539 were 
requested and six approved per year in the three most recent fiscal 
years.
    Totals. In 2005, 16,679 aliens were approved to enter into or stay 
in the United States as Religious Workers (R-1) and family members (R-
2). In 2006, 15,640 were approved, and in 2007, 14,474 entered legally, 
for an average of 15,598 religious worker visas per year.

                                 Table 5--Total Religious Workers and Relatives
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Fiscal year                         2005            2006            2007           Average
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Petitions Received by DOS and USCIS.............          23,551          23,748          25,831          24,376
Petitions Approved by DOS and USCIS.............          16,679          15,640          14,474          15,598
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Projected Petition Volume and Total Fee Collections
    USCIS assumes that the demand for religious workers will remain 
constant. Although this rule imposes a new petitioning requirement, 
nothing in this rule is expected to reduce or decrease the 
attractiveness of the program from a petitioner's standpoint. 
Therefore, the future number of petitions filed annually and the number 
of religious or affiliated organizations seeking workers should be 
consistent with recent trends. The predicted future volumes of 
petitions and application following the implementation of the changes 
in this rule are as follows:
    Form I-360.
    In the three most recent fiscal years USCIS has received an average 
of 4,697 petitions (Form I-360) either from religious organizations 
seeking permanent religious workers or from aliens seeking to perform 
religious work permanently in the United States.
    Filing volume for Form I-360 remained fairly constant from 2005 
through 2007. USCIS does not believe that this rule will result in any 
additional decreases in volume from that seen in recent years. As 
stated in the proposed rule, the level of fraud in the immigrant 
religious worker program was found to be 33% of cases reviewed. This 
final rule institutes requirements and procedures to reduce fraud in 
the program. 72 FR at 20444. Ultimately, as this rule's anti-fraud 
measures take full effect, the filing of fraudulent petitions may be 
discouraged to the point that there is a noticeable reduction in the 
volume of petitions filed with USCIS. However, USCIS started conducting 
discretionary site inspections for religious worker petitions in 2006 
and there have been recent publicized arrests associated with criminal 
activities and fraud in the religious worker program. Filing volume has 
not decreased. This rule was drafted to avoid overburdening legitimate 
petitioners and the changes in this rule are not expected to reduce or 
decrease the attractiveness of the program to eligible petitioners. 
Furthermore, DHS estimates that profession-wide demand for religious 
workers will remain constant. Therefore, USCIS estimates that filing 
volume for I-360s in the next few years will be close to the average 
received in the three most recent fiscal years.
    Projected annual Form I-360 Volume: 4,700.
    Total Fee Receipts: $1,762,500.
    Change in Form I-360 Fee Collections Resulting from the Final Rule: 
$0.
    Form I-129 for a Nonimmigrant in the United States. This rule 
requires that a petition be submitted to and approved by USCIS before a 
beneficiary who is currently in the United States in another type of 
non-immigrant status can change his or her status to that of a 
religious worker, or if here as a religious worker, extend that status. 
This is not a change from the previous practice. Thus, the future 
volume of Forms I-129 filed for individuals already in the United 
States will be the historic number of I-129 filings. As shown in Table 
2 above, USCIS has received an average of 5,346 form I-129s requesting 
nonimmigrant religious workers per year over the past three fiscal 
years. However, filing volume decreased by 3% percent from 2005 to 
2006, and by another 24% from 2006 to 2007. USCIS does not believe that 
this rule will affect this trend and that the number received in 2007 
most likely reflects future volumes. Thus, approximately 4,500 
petitions for nonimmigrants in the United States are expected per year 
following this rule.
    Form I-129 for a Nonimmigrant Abroad. This rule now requires that a 
Form I-129 be submitted to and approved by USCIS before an individual 
who lives abroad may come to the United States as a nonimmigrant 
religious worker. The number of Form I-129 filings for a nonimmigrant 
religious worker living abroad can be estimated based on the number of 
aliens recently applying for admission to the United States as a 
nonimmigrant religious worker with DOS. In 2005, 12,473 persons applied 
for R-1 visas, in 2006, 12,944 applied, and for 2007, 16,487 applied. 
That represents a 4% percent increase in 2006 over 2005, and a 27% 
increase in 2007. USCIS believes that the petition requirement will 
reduce the number of petitions received slightly from 2007 numbers to 
approximately what they have averaged over the previous three years, or 
around 14,000 R-1 petitions per year. Thus, based on historic I-129 
filing volume plus those who now must file, total Form I-129 filings 
projected per year in this analysis are as follows:
    Projected annual Form I-129 volume: 18,500.
    Total Fee Income: $5,920,000.
    Change in I-129 Fee Collections Resulting from the Final Rule: 
$4,480,000.
    Relatives--Nonimmigrant. An average of 42 Form I-539 filings per 
year were received by USCIS in the three most recent fiscal years for 
immediate

[[Page 72289]]

relatives of the alien in the United States with no notable trend 
upward or downward in volume. DOS received an average of 5,022 requests 
to bring a family member of a religious worker into the United States 
in the three most recent fiscal years, with a two percent per year 
downward trend over that period. These trends are expected to remain 
consistent with the recent past. Thus, average annual Form I-539 
volumes \10\ for this rule are expected to be as follows:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ Form I-539 has many uses. For purposes of this analysis, 
Form I-539 is used only in relation to religious workers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Projected annual Form I-539 volume: 50.
    Total Fee Income: $15,000.
    Increase in I-539 Fee Collections Resulting from the Final Rule: 
$0.
    Relatives--Immigrant.
    Special Immigrant Religious Workers may include a dependent spouse 
or child on the same Form I-360 as the worker. However, if the child is 
over 21 or the relationship or marriage occurred after the beneficiary 
of the approved I-360 becomes a lawful permanent resident, then the 
lawful permanent resident can petition for their relative on a separate 
USCIS Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, plus a $355 fee per 
form. USCIS projects an average annual filing volume for Form I-360 of 
500 petitions. USCIS has no records on the average number of people who 
enter the United States as relatives of special immigrant religious 
workers either via the I-360 or I-130 process. Regardless, USCIS knows 
no reason why the number of those who do would not remain about the 
same as it has been recently. Accordingly, this rule is not expected to 
have much of an impact on the number of such immigrants.
4. Costs
    Fees. USCIS fee collections associated with the religious worker 
program will increase substantially because of the new petitioning 
requirement for nonimmigrant religious workers and their relatives. As 
shown in B. above, the number of filings of Forms I-129 is expected to 
increase by about 14,000, resulting in an estimated $4,480,000 in 
additional fee collections from this rule per year.
    Paperwork Burden.
    Increased volume. This rule will result in approximately 14,000 
more Form I-129 filings than if this rule were not promulgated. This 
rule will result in no additional Form I-360, Form I-130, or Form I-539 
filings. The approved public reporting burden for Form I-129 is 
estimated at 2 hours and 45 minutes, including the time for reviewing 
instructions, completing and submitting the form. Therefore, this rule 
will result in an additional burden to prepare religious worker 
petitions of 38,500 hours for Form I-129. According to the United 
States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, 
employer costs for employee compensation averaged $27.82 per hour 
worked in March 2007.\11\ Valuing the effort expended per hour at that 
rate, this added time per form will cost the public $1,176,647 in 
information collection costs as a result of requiring a petition from a 
nonimmigrant religious worker.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ See Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, at http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet;jsessionid=f03023a343e1t$02$3F$.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Increased time. This rule requires USCIS to revise the approved 
information collection packages for Form I-129, Petition for 
Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), 
or Special Immigrant--OMB 1615-0009, and 0020, respectively. 
Petitioning organizations are required to submit proof of their tax-
exempt status and an attestation regarding the potential religious 
worker's qualifications and duties. Organizations will have an 
additional burden in terms of time needed to complete the attestation 
and certification requirements. These requirements will increase the 
existing information collection burden by roughly 15 minutes per 
petition for the new attestation for both the Form I-129 and the Form 
I-360. For the projected 23,200 combined total of I-360 and I-129 
filings to be submitted each year, this new attestation requirement 
results in 5,800 hours of additional paperwork burden. Valuing the 
effort expended per hour at $27.82, this added time per form will cost 
the public $161,356 in information collection costs.
    Legal and professional fees. USCIS specifically requested public 
comment on the estimated cost to petitioning religious organizations 
and bona fide organizations affiliated with a religious denomination to 
comply with the new religious worker petition requirements. As a 
result, USCIS received some public comments on the costs incurred to 
hire legal counsel or another party to prepare religious worker 
petitions. For example, one commenting organization stated that it 
incurs a cost of $1,500 per petition for either its internal staff or a 
hired professional to prepare its petitions. An Internet search quickly 
finds several law firms advertising religious worker program services. 
One Web site, for example, advertises a fee of $1,000 for preparing 
petitions for R-1 cases and an additional $200 for the family (R-2s), 
$1,500 for immigrant religious worker petitions and $800 for the 
consular processing or adjustment of status applications in the United 
States. Additional family members are $400 for a spouse and $200 per 
child. USCIS regulations, including this rule, do not require 
petitioners to hire legal or professional help to complete religious 
worker petitions. Regulations, forms, and instructions are written in 
plain language intended for the public to read and follow. Thus, the 
only costs imposed by USCIS for the burden of application preparation 
are based on estimated completion times and are included in the 
increased volume costs calculated in the paperwork burden cost 
estimates above.
    IRS application fees. USCIS recognizes that many religious 
organizations will not have a currently valid determination letter of 
their IRC section 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), status and may be 
required to pay a user fee to the IRS to acquire one.\12\ Very small 
organizations with gross revenues of not more than $10,000 may be 
charged a fee of $300 by the IRS to determine their current IRC section 
501(c)(3) status. Organizations with gross receipts in excess of 
$10,000 during the previous four years or anticipating gross receipts 
averaging more than $10,000 during the first four years, may be charged 
a fee of $750 by the IRS to determine their current IRC section 
501(c)(3) status. USCIS does not possess sufficient information to 
determine how many organizations that will be filing petitions with 
USCIS for religious workers will fall into each category or otherwise 
be required to pay such a fee. In addition, several organizations are 
expected to have lost or destroyed their tax-exempt under IRC section 
501(c)(3) determination letter, requiring a fee of $750 to obtain a new 
letter from the IRS. However, in such cases, the organization's 
incurrence of the fee for obtaining a replacement letter, while 
unfortunate, is attributable to the faulty record keeping of the 
organization, which caused the organization's letter to be lost, rather 
than to this rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ See United States Department of the Treasury, Internal 
Revenue Service, Frequently Asked Questions about Form 1023, at 
http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,id=139504,00.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Qualitative Benefits
    Fraud Prevention. Considering the importance of preventing fraud in 
the religious worker program and of

[[Page 72290]]

ensuring that only legitimate religious organizations and bona fide 
affiliated organizations participate in the process, DHS believes that 
this proposed rule will have a positive impact overall. As stated in 
the proposed rule, USCIS found a high level of fraud in the religious 
worker program, petitions filed on behalf of religious workers by 
nonexistent organizations, and material misrepresentations in 
petitions. Recently, there have been several arrests associated with 
criminal activities and fraud in the religious worker program.\13\ 
Decreased fraud and increased national security will ensure that the 
benefits of the religious worker visa program go to those who were 
intended to benefit and the eligible aliens maintain proper status 
during their stay in this country.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ See, e.g., supra, note 2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

6. Summary and Conclusions
    This rule will not significantly change the number of persons who 
immigrate to the United States based on employment-based petitions or 
temporarily visit based on a nonimmigrant visa petition. This rule is 
intended to benefit the public by clarifying definitions associated 
with the religious worker classifications, acceptable evidence, and 
specific religious worker qualification requirements. Balanced against 
the costs and the requirements to collect information, the burden 
imposed by the proposed rule appears to USCIS to be justified by the 
benefits.
    This rule will result in approximately 14,000 more Form I-129 
filings than if this rule were not promulgated. This rule will result 
in no additional Form I-539, I-360 or Form I-130 filings. The added 
time per form resulting from this rule will cost the public $161,356 in 
information collection costs. The added volume of filings will cost the 
public $1,176,647 in information collection costs as a result of 
requiring a petition from a nonimmigrant religious worker.
    The cost of this rule's increased information collection is 
outweighed by the overall benefit to the public of an improved system 
for processing religious workers. The proposed rule is a vital tool in 
furthering the protection of the public by: (1) More clearly defining 
the requirements and process by which religious workers may gain 
admission to the United States and (2) increasing the ability of DHS to 
deter or detect fraudulent petitions and to investigate and refer 
matters for prosecution.

F. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    This rule will not have substantial direct effects on the States, 
on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or 
on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various 
levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with section 6 of 
Executive Order 13132, it is determined that this rule does not have 
sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a 
federalism summary impact statement.

G. Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    This rule meets the applicable standards set forth in sections 3(a) 
and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.

H. Paperwork Reduction Act

1. USCIS Forms I-129 and I-360
    Any prospective employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for 
Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), 
or Special Immigrant, seeking to classify an alien as a religious 
worker under sections 101(a)(15)(R) and (27)(C) of the Act. Individual 
aliens may also file Form I-360 on their own behalf. The Forms I-129 
and I-360 are considered information collections under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act (PRA). The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has 
previously approved both the Forms I-129 and I-360 for use. The OMB 
control numbers for these collections for the Form I-129 is OMB 1615-
0009 and for the Form I-360 is OMB 1615-0020.
    As discussed in the proposed rule, the number of respondents filing 
Form I-129 will increase. In addition, Forms I-129 and I-360 will be 
revised with respect to evidentiary attestations. Accordingly, these 
requirements are considered information collections subject to review 
by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. DHS requested 
comments on the revision to the forms during a 60-day period until June 
25, 2007. DHS did not receive any comments on the revision to these two 
forms. Accordingly, under the PRA, DHS is requesting comments during an 
additional 30-day period until December 26, 2008. When submitting 
comments on the information collection, your comments should address 
one or more of the following four points.
    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for 
the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including 
whether the information will have practical utility;
    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of 
the collection of information, including the validity of the 
methodology and assumptions used;
    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to 
be collected; and
    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of the information on 
those who are to respond, including through the use of any and all 
appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., 
permitting electronic submission of responses.

Overview of Information Collection for the Form I-129

    (1) Type of information collection: Revision of currently approved 
collection.
    (2) Title of Form/Collection: I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant 
Worker.
    (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the 
Department of Homeland Security sponsoring the collection: Form I-129, 
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
    (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as 
well as a brief abstract: Individuals. This form is necessary for an 
employer to petition for an alien to come to the U.S. temporarily to 
perform services or labor.
    (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount 
of time estimated for an average respondent to respond to the new 
requirements: 364,048 respondents at 2.75 hours per response, and 
18,500 respondents at 3 hours per response.
    (6) An estimate of the total of public burden (in hours) associated 
with the collection: Total reporting burden hours is 1,056,632.
    All comments and suggestions or questions regarding additional 
information should be directed to the Department of Homeland Security, 
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Chief, Regulatory Management 
Division, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 
20529; telephone 202-272-8377.

Overview of Information Collection for Form I-360

    (1) Type of information collection: Revision of currently approved 
collections.
    (2) Title of Form/Collection: Form I-360 Petition for Amerasian, 
Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
    (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the 
Department of Homeland Security sponsoring the collection: Form I-360, 
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

[[Page 72291]]

    (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as 
well as a brief abstract: Individuals. The Form I-360 may be used by 
several prospective classes of aliens who intend to establish their 
eligibility to immigrate to the United States.
    (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount 
of time estimated for an average respondent to respond to the new 
requirements: 8,984 respondents at 2 hours per response, 5,000 
respondents at 3 hours per response, and 4,700 respondents at 2.25 
hours per response.
    (6) An estimate of the total of public burden (in hours) associated 
with the collection: Total reporting burden hours is 43,543.
    All comments and suggestions or questions regarding additional 
information should be directed to the Department of Homeland Security, 
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Chief, Regulatory Management 
Division, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 
20529; telephone 202-272-8377.
2. U.S. Internal Revenue Service Form 1023
    This rule defines ``bona fide non-profit religious organization in 
the United States'' as an organization possessing a currently valid 
determination letter from the IRS confirming such exemption. If a 
religious organization wishes to petition USCIS for a religious worker 
and it does not have such a letter from the IRS, this rule requires it 
to obtain one. The regulations at 8 CFR 204.5(m)(2) existing prior to 
this rule provided that a religious organization could document that it 
was bona fide either by showing it is ``an organization exempt from 
taxation as described in IRC section 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), as 
it relates to religious organizations, or one that has never sought 
such exemption but establishes to the satisfaction of the Service that 
it would be eligible therefore if it had applied for tax-exempt 
status.'' In practice, for an organization to establish that it would 
be tax-exempt, USCIS required the same information to be submitted to 
it that the organization would have had to submit to the IRS on IRS 
Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 
501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and its schedules. Thus, by 
requiring the religious organization to provide a determination letter 
from the IRS, this rule does not change the paperwork burden from the 
previous regulations.
    As stated above, a little over 3,000 religious entities are 
expected to petition for religious workers each year. According to the 
supporting statement submitted to OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
for Form 1023 and approved under OMB control number 1545-0056, the IRS 
expects to receive over 29,000 Forms 1023 per year, with each requiring 
an average of 101.68 hours to complete, plus supporting schedules which 
may require an additional 7 to 15 hours each, for a total of 3,138,550 
hours of burden and 33,378 respondents. USCIS has determined that the 
burden approved under OMB control number 1545-0056 is sufficiently 
large to encompass any increase in applications for IRC section 
501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), status caused by this rule.

List of Subjects

8 CFR Part 204

    Administrative practice and procedure, Immigration, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

8 CFR Part 214

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Employment, Foreign 
officials, Health professions, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Students.

8 CFR Part 299

    Immigration, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

0
Accordingly, chapter I of title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations is 
amended as follows:

PART 204--IMMIGRANT PETITIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 204 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1101, 1103, 1151, 1153, 1154, 1182, 1186a, 
1255, 1641; 8 CFR part 2.


0
2. Section 204.5 is amended by revising paragraph (m) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  204.5  Petitions for employment-based immigrants.

* * * * *
    (m) Religious workers. This paragraph governs classification of an 
alien as a special immigrant religious worker as defined in section 
101(a)(27)(C) of the Act and under section 203(b)(4) of the Act. To be 
eligible for classification as a special immigrant religious worker, 
the alien (either abroad or in the United States) must:
    (1) For at least the two years immediately preceding the filing of 
the petition have been a member of a religious denomination that has a 
bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States.
    (2) Be coming to the United States to work in a full time (average 
of at least 35 hours per week) compensated position in one of the 
following occupations as they are defined in paragraph (m)(5) of this 
section:
    (i) Solely in the vocation of a minister of that religious 
denomination;
    (ii) A religious vocation either in a professional or 
nonprofessional capacity; or
    (iii) A religious occupation either in a professional or 
nonprofessional capacity.
    (3) Be coming to work for a bona fide non-profit religious 
organization in the United States, or a bona fide organization which is 
affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States.
    (4) Have been working in one of the positions described in 
paragraph (m)(2) of this section, either abroad or in lawful 
immigration status in the United States, and after the age of 14 years 
continuously for at least the two-year period immediately preceding the 
filing of the petition. The prior religious work need not correspond 
precisely to the type of work to be performed. A break in the 
continuity of the work during the preceding two years will not affect 
eligibility so long as:
    (i) The alien was still employed as a religious worker;
    (ii) The break did not exceed two years; and
    (iii) The nature of the break was for further religious training or 
for sabbatical that did not involve unauthorized work in the United 
States. However, the alien must have been a member of the petitioner's 
denomination throughout the two years of qualifying employment.
    (5) Definitions. As used in paragraph (m) of this section, the 
term:
    Bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States 
means a religious organization exempt from taxation as described in 
section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, subsequent 
amendment or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the Internal 
Revenue Code, and possessing a currently valid determination letter 
from the IRS confirming such exemption.
    Bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious 
denomination means an organization which is closely associated with the 
religious denomination and which is exempt from taxation as described 
in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, subsequent 
amendment or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the Internal 
Revenue Code and possessing a currently valid

[[Page 72292]]

determination letter from the IRS confirming such exemption.
    Denominational membership means membership during at least the two-
year period immediately preceding the filing date of the petition, in 
the same type of religious denomination as the United States religious 
organization where the alien will work.
    Minister means an individual who:
    (A) Is fully authorized by a religious denomination, and fully 
trained according to the denomination's standards, to conduct such 
religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by 
authorized members of the clergy of that denomination;
    (B) Is not a lay preacher or a person not authorized to perform 
duties usually performed by clergy;
    (C) Performs activities with a rational relationship to the 
religious calling of the minister; and
    (D) Works solely as a minister in the United States, which may 
include administrative duties incidental to the duties of a minister.
    Petition means USCIS Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), 
or Special Immigrant, a successor form, or other form as may be 
prescribed by USCIS, along with a supplement containing attestations 
required by this section, the fee specified in 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1), and 
supporting evidence filed as provided by this part.
    Religious denomination means a religious group or community of 
believers that is governed or administered under a common type of 
ecclesiastical government and includes one or more of the following:
    (A) A recognized common creed or statement of faith shared among 
the denomination's members;
    (B) A common form of worship;
    (C) A common formal code of doctrine and discipline;
    (D) Common religious services and ceremonies;
    (E) Common established places of religious worship or religious 
congregations; or
    (F) Comparable indicia of a bona fide religious denomination.
    Religious occupation means an occupation that meets all of the 
following requirements:
    (A) The duties must primarily relate to a traditional religious 
function and be recognized as a religious occupation within the 
denomination.
    (B) The duties must be primarily related to, and must clearly 
involve, inculcating or carrying out the religious creed and beliefs of 
the denomination.
    (C) The duties do not include positions that are primarily 
administrative or support such as janitors, maintenance workers, 
clerical employees, fund raisers, persons solely involved in the 
solicitation of donations, or similar positions, although limited 
administrative duties that are only incidental to religious functions 
are permissible.
    (D) Religious study or training for religious work does not 
constitute a religious occupation, but a religious worker may pursue 
study or training incident to status.
    Religious vocation means a formal lifetime commitment, through 
vows, investitures, ceremonies, or similar indicia, to a religious way 
of life. The religious denomination must have a class of individuals 
whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as 
distinguished from the secular members of the religion. Examples of 
individuals practicing religious vocations include nuns, monks, and 
religious brothers and sisters.
    Religious worker means an individual engaged in and, according to 
the denomination's standards, qualified for a religious occupation or 
vocation, whether or not in a professional capacity, or as a minister.
    Tax-exempt organization means an organization that has received a 
determination letter from the IRS establishing that it, or a group that 
it belongs to, is exempt from taxation in accordance with sections 
501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or subsequent amendments 
or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the Internal Revenue 
Code.
    (6) Filing requirements. A petition must be filed as provided in 
the petition form instructions either by the alien or by his or her 
prospective United States employer. After the date stated in section 
101(a)(27)(C) of the Act, immigration or adjustment of status on the 
basis of this section is limited solely to ministers.
    (7) Attestation. An authorized official of the prospective employer 
of an alien seeking religious worker status must complete, sign and 
date an attestation prescribed by USCIS and submit it along with the 
petition. If the alien is a self-petitioner and is also an authorized 
official of the prospective employer, the self-petitioner may sign the 
attestation. The prospective employer must specifically attest to all 
of the following:
    (i) That the prospective employer is a bona fide non-profit 
religious organization or a bona fide organization which is affiliated 
with the religious denomination and is exempt from taxation;
    (ii) The number of members of the prospective employer's 
organization;
    (iii) The number of employees who work at the same location where 
the beneficiary will be employed and a summary of the type of 
responsibilities of those employees. USCIS may request a list of all 
employees, their titles, and a brief description of their duties at its 
discretion;
    (iv) The number of aliens holding special immigrant or nonimmigrant 
religious worker status currently employed or employed within the past 
five years by the prospective employer's organization;
    (v) The number of special immigrant religious worker and 
nonimmigrant religious worker petitions and applications filed by or on 
behalf of any aliens for employment by the prospective employer in the 
past five years;
    (vi) The title of the position offered to the alien, the complete 
package of salaried or non-salaried compensation being offered, and a 
detailed description of the alien's proposed daily duties;
    (vii) That the alien will be employed at least 35 hours per week;
    (viii) The specific location(s) of the proposed employment;
    (ix) That the alien has worked as a religious worker for the two 
years immediately preceding the filing of the application and is 
otherwise qualified for the position offered;
    (x) That the alien has been a member of the denomination for at 
least two years immediately preceding the filing of the application;
    (xi) That the alien will not be engaged in secular employment, and 
any salaried or non-salaried compensation for the work will be paid to 
the alien by the attesting employer; and
    (xii) That the prospective employer has the ability and intention 
to compensate the alien at a level at which the alien and accompanying 
family members will not become public charges, and that funds to pay 
the alien's compensation do not include any monies obtained from the 
alien, excluding reasonable donations or tithing to the religious 
organization.
    (8) Evidence relating to the petitioning organization. A petition 
shall include the following initial evidence relating to the 
petitioning organization:
    (i) A currently valid determination letter from the Internal 
Revenue Service (IRS) establishing that the organization is a tax-
exempt organization; or
    (ii) For a religious organization that is recognized as tax-exempt 
under a group tax-exemption, a currently valid determination letter 
from the IRS

[[Page 72293]]

establishing that the group is tax-exempt; or
    (iii) For a bona fide organization that is affiliated with the 
religious denomination, if the organization was granted tax-exempt 
status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or 
subsequent amendment or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the 
Internal Revenue Code, as something other than a religious 
organization:
    (A) A currently valid determination letter from the IRS 
establishing that the organization is a tax-exempt organization;
    (B) Documentation that establishes the religious nature and purpose 
of the organization, such as a copy of the organizing instrument of the 
organization that specifies the purposes of the organization;
    (C) Organizational literature, such as books, articles, brochures, 
calendars, flyers and other literature describing the religious purpose 
and nature of the activities of the organization; and
    (D) A religious denomination certification. The religious 
organization must complete, sign and date a religious denomination 
certification certifying that the petitioning organization is 
affiliated with the religious denomination. The certification is to be 
submitted by the petitioner along with the petition.
    (9) Evidence relating to the qualifications of a minister. If the 
alien is a minister, the petitioner must submit the following:
    (i) A copy of the alien's certificate of ordination or similar 
documents reflecting acceptance of the alien's qualifications as a 
minister in the religious denomination; and
    (ii) Documents reflecting acceptance of the alien's qualifications 
as a minister in the religious denomination, as well as evidence that 
the alien has completed any course of prescribed theological education 
at an accredited theological institution normally required or 
recognized by that religious denomination, including transcripts, 
curriculum, and documentation that establishes that the theological 
institution is accredited by the denomination, or
    (iii) For denominations that do not require a prescribed 
theological education, evidence of:
    (A) The denomination's requirements for ordination to minister;
    (B) The duties allowed to be performed by virtue of ordination;
    (C) The denomination's levels of ordination, if any; and
    (D) The alien's completion of the denomination's requirements for 
ordination.
    (10) Evidence relating to compensation. Initial evidence must 
include verifiable evidence of how the petitioner intends to compensate 
the alien. Such compensation may include salaried or non-salaried 
compensation. This evidence may include past evidence of compensation 
for similar positions; budgets showing monies set aside for salaries, 
leases, etc.; verifiable documentation that room and board will be 
provided; or other evidence acceptable to USCIS. If IRS documentation, 
such as IRS Form W-2 or certified tax returns, is available, it must be 
provided. If IRS documentation is not available, an explanation for its 
absence must be provided, along with comparable, verifiable 
documentation.
    (11) Evidence relating to the alien's prior employment. Qualifying 
prior experience during the two years immediately preceding the 
petition or preceding any acceptable break in the continuity of the 
religious work, must have occurred after the age of 14, and if acquired 
in the United States, must have been authorized under United States 
immigration law. If the alien was employed in the United States during 
the two years immediately preceding the filing of the application and:
    (i) Received salaried compensation, the petitioner must submit IRS 
documentation that the alien received a salary, such as an IRS Form W-2 
or certified copies of income tax returns.
    (ii) Received non-salaried compensation, the petitioner must submit 
IRS documentation of the non-salaried compensation if available.
    (iii) Received no salary but provided for his or her own support, 
and provided support for any dependents, the petitioner must show how 
support was maintained by submitting with the petition additional 
documents such as audited financial statements, financial institution 
records, brokerage account statements, trust documents signed by an 
attorney, or other verifiable evidence acceptable to USCIS.
    If the alien was employed outside the United States during such two 
years, the petitioner must submit comparable evidence of the religious 
work.
    (12) Inspections, evaluations, verifications, and compliance 
reviews. The supporting evidence submitted may be verified by USCIS 
through any means determined appropriate by USCIS, up to and including 
an on-site inspection of the petitioning organization. The inspection 
may include a tour of the organization's facilities, an interview with 
the organization's officials, a review of selected organization records 
relating to compliance with immigration laws and regulations, and an 
interview with any other individuals or review of any other records 
that the USCIS considers pertinent to the integrity of the 
organization. An inspection may include the organization headquarters, 
satellite locations, or the work locations planned for the applicable 
employee. If USCIS decides to conduct a pre-approval inspection, 
satisfactory completion of such inspection will be a condition for 
approval of any petition.
* * * * *

PART 214--NONIMMIGRANT CLASSES

0
3. The authority citation for part 214 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1101, 1102, 1103, 1182, 1184, 1185 (pursuant 
to E.O. 13323, 69 FR 241, 3 CFR, 2003 Comp., p. 278), 1186a, 1187, 
1221, 1281, 1282, 1301-1305, 1372, 1379, 1731-32; section 643, Pub. 
L. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009-708; section 141 of the Compacts of Free 
Association with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic 
of the Marshall Islands, and with the Government of Palau, 48 U.S.C. 
1901 note, and 1931 note, respectively, 8 CFR part 2.


0
4. Section 214.2 is amended by revising paragraph (r) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  214.2   Special Requirements for admission, extension, and 
maintenance of status.

* * * * *
    (r) Religious workers. This paragraph governs classification of an 
alien as a nonimmigrant religious worker (R-1).
    (1) To be approved for temporary admission to the United States, or 
extension and maintenance of status, for the purpose of conducting the 
activities of a religious worker for a period not to exceed five years, 
an alien must:
    (i) Be a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-
profit religious organization in the United States for at least two 
years immediately preceding the time of application for admission;
    (ii) Be coming to the United States to work at least in a part time 
position (average of at least 20 hours per week);
    (iii) Be coming solely as a minister or to perform a religious 
vocation or occupation as defined in paragraph (r)(3) of this section 
(in either a professional or nonprofessional capacity);
    (iv) Be coming to or remaining in the United States at the request 
of the petitioner to work for the petitioner; and
    (v) Not work in the United States in any other capacity, except as 
provided in paragraph (r)(2) of this section.

[[Page 72294]]

    (2) An alien may work for more than one qualifying employer as long 
as each qualifying employer submits a petition plus all additional 
required documentation as prescribed by USCIS regulations.
    (3) Definitions. As used in this section, the term:
    Bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States 
means a religious organization exempt from taxation as described in 
section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, subsequent 
amendment or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the Internal 
Revenue Code, and possessing a currently valid determination letter 
from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) confirming such exemption.
    Bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious 
denomination means an organization which is closely associated with the 
religious denomination and which is exempt from taxation as described 
in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or 
subsequent amendment or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the 
Internal Revenue Code, and possessing a currently valid determination 
letter from the IRS confirming such exemption.
    Denominational membership means membership during at least the two-
year period immediately preceding the filing date of the petition, in 
the same type of religious denomination as the United States religious 
organization where the alien will work.
    Minister means an individual who:
    (A) Is fully authorized by a religious denomination, and fully 
trained according to the denomination's standards, to conduct religious 
worship and perform other duties usually performed by authorized 
members of the clergy of that denomination;
    (B) Is not a lay preacher or a person not authorized to perform 
duties usually performed by clergy;
    (C) Performs activities with a rational relationship to the 
religious calling of the minister; and
    (D) Works solely as a minister in the United States which may 
include administrative duties incidental to the duties of a minister.
    Petition means USCIS Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant 
Worker, a successor form, or any other form as may be prescribed by 
USCIS, along with a supplement containing attestations required by this 
section, the fee specified in 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1), and supporting 
evidence required by this part.
    Religious denomination means a religious group or community of 
believers that is governed or administered under a common type of 
ecclesiastical government and includes one or more of the following:
    (A) A recognized common creed or statement of faith shared among 
the denomination's members;
    (B) A common form of worship;
    (C) A common formal code of doctrine and discipline;
    (D) Common religious services and ceremonies;
    (E) Common established places of religious worship or religious 
congregations; or
    (F) Comparable indicia of a bona fide religious denomination.
    Religious occupation means an occupation that meets all of the 
following requirements:
    (A) The duties must primarily relate to a traditional religious 
function and be recognized as a religious occupation within the 
denomination;
    (B) The duties must be primarily related to, and must clearly 
involve, inculcating or carrying out the religious creed and beliefs of 
the denomination;
    (C) The duties do not include positions which are primarily 
administrative or support such as janitors, maintenance workers, 
clerical employees, fund raisers, persons solely involved in the 
solicitation of donations, or similar positions, although limited 
administrative duties that are only incidental to religious functions 
are permissible; and
    (D) Religious study or training for religious work does not 
constitute a religious occupation, but a religious worker may pursue 
study or training incident to status.
    Religious vocation means a formal lifetime commitment, through 
vows, investitures, ceremonies, or similar indicia, to a religious way 
of life. The religious denomination must have a class of individuals 
whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as 
distinguished from the secular members of the religion. Examples of 
vocations include nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters.
    Religious worker means an individual engaged in and, according to 
the denomination's standards, qualified for a religious occupation or 
vocation, whether or not in a professional capacity, or as a minister.
    Tax-exempt organization means an organization that has received a 
determination letter from the IRS establishing that it, or a group it 
belongs to, is exempt from taxation in accordance with sections 
501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or subsequent 
amendments or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the Internal 
Revenue Code.
    (4) Requirements for admission/change of status; time limits--(i) 
Principal applicant (R-1 nonimmigrant). If otherwise admissible, an 
alien who meets the requirements of section 101(a)(15)(R) of the Act 
may be admitted as an R-1 alien or changed to R-1 status for an initial 
period of up to 30 months from date of initial admission. If visa-
exempt, the alien must present original documentation of the petition 
approval.
    (ii) Spouse and children (R-2 status). The spouse and unmarried 
children under the age of 21 of an R-1 alien may be accompanying or 
following to join the R-1 alien, subject to the following conditions:
    (A) R-2 status is granted for the same period of time and subject 
to the same limits as the principal, regardless of the time such spouse 
and children may have spent in the United States in R-2 status;
    (B) Neither the spouse nor children may accept employment while in 
the United States in R-2 status; and
    (C) The primary purpose of the spouse or children coming to the 
United States must be to join or accompany the principal R-1 alien.
    (5) Extension of stay or readmission. An R-1 alien who is 
maintaining status or is seeking readmission and who satisfies the 
eligibility requirements of this section may be granted an extension of 
R-1 stay or readmission in R-1 status for the validity period of the 
petition, up to 30 months, provided the total period of time spent in 
R-1 status does not exceed a maximum of five years. A Petition for a 
Nonimmigrant Worker to request an extension of R-1 status must be filed 
by the employer with a supplement prescribed by USCIS containing 
attestations required by this section, the fee specified in 8 CFR 
103.7(b)(1), and the supporting evidence, in accordance with the 
applicable form instructions.
    (6) Limitation on total stay. An alien who has spent five years in 
the United States in R-1 status may not be readmitted to or receive an 
extension of stay in the United States under the R visa classification 
unless the alien has resided abroad and has been physically present 
outside the United States for the immediate prior year. The limitations 
in this paragraph shall not apply to R-1 aliens who did not reside 
continually in the United States and whose employment in the United 
States was seasonal or intermittent or was for an aggregate of six 
months or less per year. In addition, the limitations shall not apply 
to aliens who reside abroad and

[[Page 72295]]

regularly commute to the United States to engage in part-time 
employment. To qualify for this exception, the petitioner and the alien 
must provide clear and convincing proof that the alien qualifies for 
such an exception. Such proof shall consist of evidence such as arrival 
and departure records, transcripts of processed income tax returns, and 
records of employment abroad.
    (7) Jurisdiction and procedures for obtaining R-1 status. An 
employer in the United States seeking to employ a religious worker, by 
initial petition or by change of status, shall file a petition in 
accordance with the applicable form instructions.
    (8) Attestation. An authorized official of the prospective employer 
of an R-1 alien must complete, sign and date an attestation prescribed 
by USCIS and submit it along with the petition. The prospective 
employer must specifically attest to all of the following:
    (i) That the prospective employer is a bona fide non-profit 
religious organization or a bona fide organization which is affiliated 
with the religious denomination and is exempt from taxation;
    (ii) That the alien has been a member of the denomination for at 
least two years and that the alien is otherwise qualified for the 
position offered;
    (iii) The number of members of the prospective employer's 
organization;
    (iv) The number of employees who work at the same location where 
the beneficiary will be employed and a summary of the type of 
responsibilities of those employees. USCIS may request a list of all 
employees, their titles, and a brief description of their duties at its 
discretion;
    (v) The number of aliens holding special immigrant or nonimmigrant 
religious worker status currently employed or employed within the past 
five years by the prospective employer's organization;
    (vi) The number of special immigrant religious worker and 
nonimmigrant religious worker petitions and applications filed by or on 
behalf of any aliens for employment by the prospective employer in the 
past five years;
    (vii) The title of the position offered to the alien and a detailed 
description of the alien's proposed daily duties;
    (viii) Whether the alien will receive salaried or non-salaried 
compensation and the details of such compensation;
    (ix) That the alien will be employed at least 20 hours per week;
    (x) The specific location(s) of the proposed employment; and
    (xi) That the alien will not be engaged in secular employment.
    (9) Evidence relating to the petitioning organization. A petition 
shall include the following initial evidence relating to the 
petitioning organization:
    (i) A currently valid determination letter from the IRS showing 
that the organization is a tax-exempt organization; or
    (ii) For a religious organization that is recognized as tax-exempt 
under a group tax-exemption, a currently valid determination letter 
from the IRS establishing that the group is tax-exempt; or
    (iii) For a bona fide organization that is affiliated with the 
religious denomination, if the organization was granted tax-exempt 
status under section 501(c)(3), or subsequent amendment or equivalent 
sections of prior enactments, of the Internal Revenue Code, as 
something other than a religious organization:
    (A) A currently valid determination letter from the IRS 
establishing that the organization is a tax-exempt organization;
    (B) Documentation that establishes the religious nature and purpose 
of the organization, such as a copy of the organizing instrument of the 
organization that specifies the purposes of the organization;
    (C) Organizational literature, such as books, articles, brochures, 
calendars, flyers, and other literature describing the religious 
purpose and nature of the activities of the organization; and
    (D) A religious denomination certification. The religious 
organization must complete, sign and date a statement certifying that 
the petitioning organization is affiliated with the religious 
denomination. The statement must be submitted by the petitioner along 
with the petition.
    (10) Evidence relating to the qualifications of a minister. If the 
alien is a minister, the petitioner must submit the following:
    (i) A copy of the alien's certificate of ordination or similar 
documents reflecting acceptance of the alien's qualifications as a 
minister in the religious denomination; and
    (ii) Documents reflecting acceptance of the alien's qualifications 
as a minister in the religious denomination, as well as evidence that 
the alien has completed any course of prescribed theological education 
at an accredited theological institution normally required or 
recognized by that religious denomination, including transcripts, 
curriculum, and documentation that establishes that the theological 
education is accredited by the denomination, or
    (iii) For denominations that do not require a prescribed 
theological education, evidence of:
    (A) The denomination's requirements for ordination to minister;
    (B) The duties allowed to be performed by virtue of ordination;
    (C) The denomination's levels of ordination, if any; and
    (D) The alien's completion of the denomination's requirements for 
ordination.
    (11) Evidence relating to compensation. Initial evidence must state 
how the petitioner intends to compensate the alien, including specific 
monetary or in-kind compensation, or whether the alien intends to be 
self-supporting. In either case, the petitioner must submit verifiable 
evidence explaining how the petitioner will compensate the alien or how 
the alien will be self-supporting. Compensation may include:
    (i) Salaried or non-salaried compensation. Evidence of compensation 
may include past evidence of compensation for similar positions; 
budgets showing monies set aside for salaries, leases, etc.; verifiable 
documentation that room and board will be provided; or other evidence 
acceptable to USCIS. IRS documentation, such as IRS Form W-2 or 
certified tax returns, must be submitted, if available. If IRS 
documentation is unavailable, the petitioner must submit an explanation 
for the absence of IRS documentation, along with comparable, verifiable 
documentation.
    (ii) Self support. (A) If the alien will be self-supporting, the 
petitioner must submit documentation establishing that the position the 
alien will hold is part of an established program for temporary, 
uncompensated missionary work, which is part of a broader international 
program of missionary work sponsored by the denomination.
    (B) An established program for temporary, uncompensated work is 
defined to be a missionary program in which:
    (1) Foreign workers, whether compensated or uncompensated, have 
previously participated in R-1 status;
    (2) Missionary workers are traditionally uncompensated;
    (3) The organization provides formal training for missionaries; and
    (4) Participation in such missionary work is an established element 
of religious development in that denomination.
    (C) The petitioner must submit evidence demonstrating:

[[Page 72296]]

    (1) That the organization has an established program for temporary, 
uncompensated missionary work;
    (2) That the denomination maintains missionary programs both in the 
United states and abroad;
    (3) The religious worker's acceptance into the missionary program;
    (4) The religious duties and responsibilities associated with the 
traditionally uncompensated missionary work; and
    (5) Copies of the alien's bank records, budgets documenting the 
sources of self-support (including personal or family savings, room and 
board with host families in the United States, donations from the 
denomination's churches), or other verifiable evidence acceptable to 
USCIS.
    (12) Evidence of previous R-1 employment. Any request for an 
extension of stay as an R-1 must include initial evidence of the 
previous R-1 employment. If the beneficiary:
    (i) Received salaried compensation, the petitioner must submit IRS 
documentation that the alien received a salary, such as an IRS Form W-2 
or certified copies of filed income tax returns, reflecting such work 
and compensation for the preceding two years.
    (ii) Received non-salaried compensation, the petitioner must submit 
IRS documentation of the non-salaried compensation if available. If IRS 
documentation is unavailable, an explanation for the absence of IRS 
documentation must be provided, and the petitioner must provide 
verifiable evidence of all financial support, including stipends, room 
and board, or other support for the beneficiary by submitting a 
description of the location where the beneficiary lived, a lease to 
establish where the beneficiary lived, or other evidence acceptable to 
USCIS.
    (iii) Received no salary but provided for his or her own support, 
and that of any dependents, the petitioner must show how support was 
maintained by submitting with the petition verifiable documents such as 
audited financial statements, financial institution records, brokerage 
account statements, trust documents signed by an attorney, or other 
evidence acceptable to USCIS.
    (13) Change or addition of employers. An R-1 alien may not be 
compensated for work for any religious organization other than the one 
for which a petition has been approved or the alien will be out of 
status. A different or additional employer seeking to employ the alien 
may obtain prior approval of such employment through the filing of a 
separate petition and appropriate supplement, supporting documents, and 
fee prescribed in 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1).
    (14) Employer obligations. When an R-1 alien is working less than 
the required number of hours or has been released from or has otherwise 
terminated employment before the expiration of a period of authorized 
R-1 stay, the R-1 alien's approved employer must notify DHS within 14 
days using procedures set forth in the instructions to the petition or 
otherwise prescribed by USCIS on the USCIS Internet Web site at 
www.uscis.gov.
    (15) Nonimmigrant intent. An alien classified under section 
101(a)(15)(R) of the Act shall maintain an intention to depart the 
United States upon the expiration or termination of R-1 or R-2 status. 
However, a nonimmigrant petition, application for initial admission, 
change of status, or extension of stay in R classification may not be 
denied solely on the basis of a filed or an approved request for 
permanent labor certification or a filed or approved immigrant visa 
preference petition.
    (16) Inspections, evaluations, verifications, and compliance 
reviews. The supporting evidence submitted may be verified by USCIS 
through any means determined appropriate by USCIS, up to and including 
an on-site inspection of the petitioning organization. The inspection 
may include a tour of the organization's facilities, an interview with 
the organization's officials, a review of selected organization records 
relating to compliance with immigration laws and regulations, and an 
interview with any other individuals or review of any other records 
that the USCIS considers pertinent to the integrity of the 
organization. An inspection may include the organization headquarters, 
or satellite locations, or the work locations planned for the 
applicable employee. If USCIS decides to conduct a pre-approval 
inspection, satisfactory completion of such inspection will be a 
condition for approval of any petition.
    (17) Denial and appeal of petition. USCIS will provide written 
notification of the reasons for the denial under 8 CFR 103.3(a)(1). The 
petitioner may appeal the denial under 8 CFR 103.3.
    (18) Revocation of approved petitions--(i) Director discretion. The 
director may revoke a petition at any time, even after the expiration 
of the petition.
    (ii) Automatic revocation. The approval of any petition is 
automatically revoked if the petitioner ceases to exist or files a 
written withdrawal of the petition.
    (iii) Revocation on notice--(A) Grounds for revocation. The 
director shall send to the petitioner a notice of intent to revoke the 
petition in relevant part if he or she finds that:
    (1) The beneficiary is no longer employed by the petitioner in the 
capacity specified in the petition;
    (2) The statement of facts contained in the petition was not true 
and correct;
    (3) The petitioner violated terms and conditions of the approved 
petition;
    (4) The petitioner violated requirements of section 101(a)(15)(R) 
of the Act or paragraph (r) of this section; or
    (5) The approval of the petition violated paragraph (r) of this 
section or involved gross error.
    (B) Notice and decision. The notice of intent to revoke shall 
contain a detailed statement of the grounds for the revocation and the 
time period allowed for the petitioner's rebuttal. The petitioner may 
submit evidence in rebuttal within 30 days of receipt of the notice. 
The director shall consider all relevant evidence presented in deciding 
whether to revoke the petition.
    (19) Appeal of a revocation of a petition. A petition that has been 
revoked on notice in whole or in part may be appealed under 8 CFR 
103.3. Automatic revocations may not be appealed.
* * * * *

PART 299--IMMIGRATION FORMS

0
5. The authority citation for part 299 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1101 and note, 1103; 8 CFR part 2.


0
6. Section 299.1 is amended in the table by revising the entries for 
Forms ``I-129'' and ``I-360,'' to read as follows:


Sec.  299.1  Prescribed forms.

* * * * *

[[Page 72297]]



------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Form No.              Edition date     Title and description
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                              * * * * * * *
I-129.........................        XX-XX-XX  Petition for a
                                                 Nonimmigrant Worker.
 
                              * * * * * * *
I-360.........................        XX-XX-XX  Petition for Amerasian,
                                                 Widow(er) or Special
                                                 Immigrant.
 
                              * * * * * * *
------------------------------------------------------------------------


0
7. Section 299.5 is amended in the table, by revising the entries for 
Forms ``I-129'' and ``I-360,'' to read as follows:


Sec.  299.5  Display of control numbers.

* * * * *

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Currently
           Form No.                    Form title          assigned OMB
                                                            control No.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                              * * * * * * *
I-129.........................  Petition for a                 1615-0009
                                 Nonimmigrant Worker.
 
                              * * * * * * *
I-360.........................  Petition for Amerasian,        1615-0020
                                 Widow(er) or Special
                                 Immigrant.
 
                              * * * * * * *
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Michael Chertoff,
Secretary.
 [FR Doc. E8-28225 Filed 11-25-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-97-P