SUCCESSFUL R-1 EXTENSION Paul Yang
· Applicant: Chinese Christian
· Nationality: China
· Role: Apostle of Revival
· Applying for: R-1 Religious Workers Visa, Extension
o Petitioning organization was not a church, but was a Christian conglomerate
o Mr. Ying‘s position provided little income, only $36,000 per year for a man with a family.
o We needed to demonstrate that the organization
o Mr. Ying belonged to a church in China was only a home church involving informal meetings, not a Chinese government-sanctioned church.
o Mr. Ying was not paid with paystubs at his role back in China, as it was not an officially state sanctioned church.
o Mr. Ying’s religious position was not as a Pastor, but rather as a “Apostle of Revival”
o We had to prove that Mr. Ying’s Christian organization in China was of the same denomination as his new petitioner in the United States.
Looking for a law firm who would successfully represent an R-1 extension case, Mr. Ying came to us at Tsang and Associates in hopes that we would be able to help file a Petition for a religious worker extension with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). We had previously helped Mr. Ying obtain approval his original R-1 two years prior. Now in order for Mr. Ying and his family to be able to remain in the United States, they needed to file an extended R-1 petition with a Christian network as the petitioner. Otherwise, Mr. Ying and his family would be forced to return to China. Mr. Ying was extremely eager to have his R-1 petition approved. As such, he came to us again and we helped him file the petition in February 2018.
Keys to Success
However, we strongly believed that we would be able to form a petition that would garner approval for Mr. Ying a second time under an extension. However, there were some challenges. Pastor Yang was not at all wealthy and there was limited documentation for his previous ministry in China.
How we proved the Petitioner’s Nonprofit Status and Religious Mission
According to USCIS regulation, the petitioner must be a nonprofit organization with a religious mission in order to qualify to petition on behalf of a beneficiary for an R-1 visa. Generally, speaking, in most R-1 cases the petitioning organization would be a church. The challenge was in the fact that this organization was not a church, but rather an organization with relatively few employees. The organization was oriented around organizing events for other churches. In the vast majority of circumstances, the petitioning organization in an R-1 case is indeed a church. However, we were able to demonstrate that the organization was a 501(c)(3) nonprofit religious organization, and thus qualified as a petitioner in the case.
In order to prove that Christian Network was a nonprofit organization, we provided the tax exemption letter given by the IRS indicating tax exempt status. We then presented the Articles of Incorporation from its start in 2004, establishing that Christian Network was a revival focused ministry focused on helping small to mid-sized churches achieve its full potential by providing resources, training, and connections for Protestant churches, missionaries, disciples, and seekers. The fact that the organization was small with few employees also posed a challenge to the case. In order to overcome this problem, we focused on proving the groups non-profit status, as well as stressing the employer’s religious mission. We produced evidence of the organization’s Christian events, one of which involved the petitioner leading 37 agencies and 37 churches in an event stressing the love of Christianity.
Moreover, we detailed its outreach events and its wide scope spanning all across the United States. We were able to present the organization’s history by showing a calendar of events and the organization website. Furthermore, we provided pictures of events hosted by Christian Network and brought attention to its social media pages in order to broaden the religious nature of Christian Network. Therefore, despite the distinction in this case of the petitioner not being a church, we were still able to establish that it nevertheless met the letter of the law.
How we proved the Beneficiary’s Religious Background
One of the vital components of Mr. Ying’s application for R-1 classification was detailing his religious background and spiritual growth over the course of his life. We explained that though Mr. Ying had attained for himself a lucrative career in finance, he determined that there was something more to his life; in turn, he began to pursue God to find a spiritual strength. He attended the International School of Ministry and graduated with his diploma in Biblical Studies.
We then showed that after his time at the International School of Ministry, he started a house church in China where he had been ordained as a pastor and has served the congregation for over ten years. Further, we highlighted that Mr. Ying was an internationally renowned speaker, pastor, and minister. We proved this using various flyers and invitations demonstrating that he had been invited to Israel, Hong Kong, mainland China, and the United States to speak to congregations, lead worship services, give sermons, and discuss Christianity in China. Despite the fact that Mr. Ying was the pastor of a house church, meaning that there were limited documents available due to China’s suppression of religion, we were able to establish Mr. Ying’s deeply rooted faith and continuous labor over the past 10 years.
How we proved the Beneficiary’s Qualifications and Duties as a Pastor
Next, we had to demonstrate Mr. Ying’s duties as a pastor. This involved showing that he was fully trained according to the denomination’s standards to conduct religious worship, was not a mere lay teacher or performing duties merely performed by the clergy, performed activities with a rational relationship to the religious calling of the pastor, and worked solely as a pastor in the US, which may include administrative duties. In order to establish this, we produced his diploma in biblical studies, and his certificates in ordination, and evidence that he had served as a pastor for 10 years in China.
We then had to establish that the duties that Mr. Ying would be performing could not be done by anyone without his qualifications and experience. We were able to provide a calendar of activities which included responsibilities such as training pastors and ministers to spread the Word of God, training church staff to support Pastors in their work, organizing and executing discipleship programs and leadership seminars, and preparing and performing sermons. We noted that these duties could only be performed by those who were well versed in the denomination’s religious beliefs.
How we proved the Beneficiary’s Sufficient Salary and Compensation
One of the requirements for approval of the R-1 visa is that the beneficiary must be sufficiently compensated by the petitioner or else be able to self-support as to not become a burden to society. This was a major challenge because the Pastor was not earning a high salary. Mr. Ying would receive a salary of $36,000 from Christian Network. This was a challenge because he was not paid with paystubs. Therefore, we needed to prove that he was paid by the organization through other means. We produced Mr. Ying’s W-2 form and Bank of America statements that proved that he was indeed compensated. Further, we were able to prove through Christian Network’s bank statements and tax returns that it was indeed capable of compensating Mr. Ying. In order to further overcome the issue of low salary, Mr. Ying’s bank statements also proved that he did have personal savings that would ensure that his financial needs would indeed be met despite the fact that he had a large family. The Pastor’s compensation was low, but we were able to partially mitigate this problem by helping the petitioning organization draft a statement establishing that they would provide the client with room and board, thus mitigating his financial obligations.
How we proved the Beneficiary’s Two-Year Membership in the Same Denomination as Nonprofit Foundation
We then had to demonstrate that both Mr. Ying and Nonprofit Foundation had a common set of beliefs, form of worship, and common doctrine for at least 2 years prior to fulfill the standards for a denomination as falling under the Code of Federal Regulations.
We proved that both Mr. Ying’s home church and Christian Network were of the denomination of Protestant Christianity. We acquired the by-laws and statement of faith for both organizations and compared them focusing on some main components of Christianity: the Trinity, the Bible, and Salvation. We noted that both organizations believed the there is only one God existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
When the decision came in, Pastor Yang was ecstatic. He was concerned that the challenges in his case would provide unsurmountable problems. When the case was approved, he began another stint as the pastor for his petitioning organization. The case was filed on February 21, 2018. We received the approval notice on March 15, 2018 with the case coming in without a Request for Evidence. What normally would have been a difficult case was approved in short order.