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Congress extends visa program for foreign religious workers

Catholic World News - September 20, 2012

Following a unanimous vote in the Senate and a 412-3 vote in the House of Representatives, Congress has voted to extend the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program for three years. The bill awaits the signature of President Barack Obama.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the program permits 5,000 foreign religious and laity to receive permanent visas and work in US dioceses and parishes. The program also permits numerous foreign rabbis, cantors, teachers, and kosher butchers to work in the country.

“This program is vital to the mission of the Church in the United States, as it permits nuns, brothers, and lay persons from overseas to enter the country and work in Church ministries,” said Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. “They work in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, parishes and other important ministries, assisting dioceses and archdioceses in serving the vulnerable and spreading the Gospel.”

Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and Ron Paul (R-TX) voted against the legislation.

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