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Sen. Hatch seeks to ease delays for Mormon missionaries

FILE - Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, gives an interview in his office in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. Hatch is introducing a proposal that aims to remedy religious visa delays that The Church of Jesus Christ
FILE - Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, gives an interview in his office in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. Hatch is introducing a proposal that aims to remedy religious visa delays that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says are disrupting its missionary program.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is introducing a proposal that aims to remedy religious visa delays that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says are disrupting its missionary program.

Hatch said in a news release Thursday that some people are waiting nine to 11 months to get the religious visas. His measure would allow qualified religions with established missionary programs to get missionaries visas within weeks.

LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins on Friday said the church requests about 1,000 religious visas yearly for church members coming to the United States to serve missions.

Hatch, a Mormon, says the long and unpredictable delays are taking a toll on people who are called to serve missions.