Utah Sen. Hatch proposes bill to speed visas for missionaries

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. Photo: Flickr/Michael Jolley

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 31, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch on Thursday introduced a bill that, if passed, would speed the visa process for foreign missionaries and other religious workers coming to the United States to serve.

The U.S visa process for religious workers can take nearly a year, in part because with each worker’s individual visa, religious groups must submit extensive organizational information.

If approved, Hatch’s Religious Worker Visa Improvement Act would allow established religious organizations who meet set guidelines to submit blanket paperwork for their organizations rather than providing the lengthy documentation with each religious worker’s visa application.

“Missionary service is the lifeblood for many churches across the nation, yet long and unpredictable visa delays are taking a toll on those who have answered the call to serve,” Hatch said in a prepared statement.

“My bill will shorten the visa processing time for longstanding and reputable religious organizations while preserving existing anti-fraud and security protections. It’s a win-win for everyone involved: USCIS can dedicate its limited resources to other pressing matters while missionaries in established programs can travel to their missions without lengthy delays.”

The act would apply to religious groups that meet a list of organizational conditions listed in the statement. Click here to read it.

If passed, the act would apply to all religious organizations that meet the guidelines, not just The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which Hatch is a member.


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