Long Story: We have been waiting on the Lord and waiting for Pastor Misael to be approved to work. Earlier in July, we tried three different things to help Misael’s religious visa to be renewed. The religious visa expired July 2021, and the automatic extension that allowed Misael to legally work as a pastor, expired March 2022. If these last three attempts did not work, then the only option left was to sue USCIS in Federal court. First, we followed up with our local congressman about our previous request to help us with the visa. Unfortunately, our local congressman had not received a response to his first Congressional Inquiry, so his office sent a second Congressional Inquiry to USCIS on our behalf. Next, our lawyer sent an inquiry to the Ombudsman of USCIS to help us understand why our religious visa renewal was not being processed within the normal timeline of 6 months – ours was now 18 months. Last, we filed Premium Processing for a 5th time to attempt to move our file to the front of the line.
On Wednesday, July 27, Homeland Security surprised us with a visit to New Life Bible Church’s building. Our Homeland Security agent received our paperwork on Tuesday and made it a priority to drive to Yakima on Wednesday. Normally, an agent has 60 days to write a site visit report for religious visas, but our agent promised to finish his report Thursday morning. After he submitted his report, we were expecting a decision in 15-30 business days.
On Thursday, July 28, we received a notice that our Premium Processing request had been denied by USCIS. Separately, the Ombudsman for USCIS requested information regarding CrossLink’s inquiries to our local congressman and to USCIS. We were disappointed about another rejection by USCIS, but we were hopeful that the boss of USCIS was now requesting information.
On Friday morning, July 29, we were surprised with an approval notice for Misael’s religious work visa renewal from the Ombudsman for USCIS.
The next steps for Pastor Misael and for CrossLink are to continue the work that God has called each of us to do. The religious work visa will allow Pastor Misael to legally pastor and travel to Mexico for ministry again, if needed. Separately, we are expecting Legal Permanent Residency Work Permits for Misael, his wife Taira, and son Dan to arrive in the next 12 months. We expect all of the approved Hernandez family Legal Permanent Residency paperwork (Greencards) to arrive within the next two years. Pray this next part of the process is expedited with no delays.
Thank you for your prayers for Misael and his family! Thank you for praying for New Life Bible Church and for Hispanic ministry and church planting in the Yakima Valley and Mexico and everywhere that CrossLink has ministry opportunities to share the good news of Jesus. Praise God for His goodness!