US Visa Rule Change for Religious Workers Opposed

November 2, 2007

Author: Arun Kumar

Source: EarthTimes

A Democratic Congressman has warned against a proposed rule change that would make it more difficult for Hindu, Buddhist and other non-Christian religious workers to get a US visa.

Better known for his opposition to the India-US nuclear deal, Edward J. Markey sent a letter to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials urging them to consult with, and incorporate the feedback of, religious groups while considering the change.

USCIS is considering changing the definitions of eligible religious workers and religious denominations related to the R-1 Religious Worker visa after widespread reports of fraud and abuse.

The proposed immigration rule change could have the unintended effect of discriminating against people of non-Judeo-Christian faiths, Markey said, noting: 'Some religions in the United States, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, rely more heavily on foreign religious workers for their religious practice.

'For example, several of my Hindu American constituents in Massachusetts rely heavily on religious workers from abroad. An overly restrictive final rule on R-1 visas could greatly impact their ability to fully practice their faith.'