Visa Issuance: Observations on the Issuance of Visas for Religious Workers: T-NSIAD-00-207

Ford, Jess T.
June 2000
GAO Reports;6/29/2000, p1
Government Documents
A decade ago, Congress established special immigrant and nonimmigrant visa categories for religious workers, including religious professionals and ministers, because of domestic shortages in these positions cited by religious groups. In 1998, religious worker visas constituted about 11,000 of the 6.4 million immigrant (permanent) and nonimmigrant (temporary) visas issued. The State Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) share responsibility for issuing visas and admitting aliens into the United States. As a result of fraud investigations in the mid-1990s, both agencies have expressed concern that some individuals and organizations that sponsor religious workers may take advantage of this category to help unqualified aliens to enter or stay in the United States illegally. This testimony focuses on (1) the extent and the nature of any fraud the State Department and INS have identified in the religious worker visa program and (2) any steps these two agencies have taken or plan to take to change the visa screening process.


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