Action Center

Urge Congress to Safeguard Children in Need and Ensure Communities Have Access to Religious Workers
In June 2023, the Protect Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act (S. 1885/H.R. 4285) was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The bill would relieve the backlog currently confronting special immigrant juveniles by exempting them from the annual caps for the employment-based, fourth preference (EB-4) visa. This would ensure that abused, neglected, or abandoned youth who are deemed eligible for relief by state courts no longer need to compete with adults relying on the same category of visas. These minors are ill-suited for the EB-4 visa category, as they are seeking humanitarian protection, not employment-based immigration. Passage of the bill would simultaneously free up visas for others in the EB-4 category, including immigrant religious workers depended upon by many Catholic dioceses and other religious organizations throughout the United States. Now is a crucial time for your advocacy to ensure movement on this important piece of legislation.

Currently, the wait time for an EB-4 visa exceeds five years for all applicants. 

Implementation of this minor legislative fix would: 

  • Ensure eligible youth have more timely access to lawful permanent resident status (i.e., a green card), in accordance with their humanitarian needs.
  • Reduce the risks of homelessness and exploitation that SIJ-eligible minors face as they wait in a years-long backlog for EB-4 visas.
  • Increase the availability of EB-4 visas for religious workers who serve communities across the nation.
  • Increase the availability of EB-4 visas for others within the category, such as members of the U.S. armed forces, noncitizens who have supplied information concerning a criminal organization or enterprise or a terrorist organization, enterprise, or operation, and others. 

As Bishop Mark Seitz, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, said in a recent letter: “With this small change, [Congress] could uphold the right to religious exercise, a foundational American principle, and empower vulnerable young people to flourish in their new country, contribute to our nation, and reach their full God-given potential.”

Help ensure vulnerable youth receive the protections they deserve and American communities can benefit from the contributions of religious workers by completing this action alert in support of the Protect Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act.

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