New Bill aimed to help missionaries from various churches to go about their religious duties overseas with greater ease.Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced a bill that will enable Mormon missionaries to get visas with more ease. The senator says that missionaries have to sometimes wait for months before they receive their visas. This causes a lot of problems throughout to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which missionaries form the very backbone of the operation.
The legislation, once implemented, will result in the creation of a streamlined blanket petition procedure. Mormon missionaries will be able to make use of this blanket petition procedure to apply for visas. The waiting period to get visas can be reduced to just a few weeks through this procedure. The church revealed there are numerous cases where missionaries get stuck overseas due to the problem of visas. The bill should ease the process and facilitate overseas travelling for the missionaries.
The LDS Church has an estimated 75,000 missionaries, including 1,000 from other countries. Missionaries are often sent to other countries for various religious duties and so, the problem of visas exist both ways- when a missionary wants to go to another country from the U.S., and when a missionary wants to enter the U.S. Although the LDS Church has a standardized set of papers for every case when a missionary is sent abroad, the different immigration laws and officials in various countries pose problems that could not have been foreseen by the Church officials.
The bill will not apply only to Mormon missionaries, but to missionaries of other churches as well. Senator Hatch points out that missionary services from the very lifeblood of religious organizations and as such, every effort needs to be made to make it easier for missionaries to travel. The bill will apply to missionaries from all religious organizations who meet following criteria:
- They have a proper volunteering program outside the U.S.
- Missionary activity is an integral part of the organization’s operations.
- Have a source of finance that will support the missionaries.
- The organization has passed the mandatory fraud-prevention inspection.
- Have received at least 1,000 applications from religious workers
The Utah senator has assured the bill will be in full compliance with safety and security codes and not compromising on national and international security.
GOP bill wd fast-track visas for Mormons & other missionaries coming to US. Would it include proselytizing Muslims? https://t.co/Wg7ybKLogw
— G. Jeffrey MacDonald (@gjmacdonald) April 3, 2017