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R Visa

Religious workers

Your organization (by itself or in conjunction with another organization) can sponsor a religious worker if it’s a bona fide, non-profit religious organization in the U.S. Your organization must have received a determination letter from the IRS establishing that it, or the groups that it belongs to, is exempt from taxation in accordance with IRC 501(c)(3). The position must be as a minister, a religious occupation, or areligious vocation for at least 20 hours per week. The regulations do list what is not a religious occupation but does not define what it is; therefore, carefully explaining the job duties and title are very important in these applications. A religious vocation is when an individual has made a formal lifetime commitment—through vows, investitures, ceremonies, or similar indicia—to a religious way of life. For example, nuns, monks, brothers, sisters, etc.

The religious work must have been a member of your religious denomination or organization for the immediately preceding two years.This classification does not require prior employment with your organization.This is not to be confused with Special Immigrant Religious Worker regulations that do require prior employment. Also note that the membership requirement requires membership in the denomination—not the specific petitioning organization.

The spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21of R-1s may be admitted into the United States in R-2 status. R-2 status is granted for the same period of time as the principal, regardless of the time the spouse and children may have spent in the United States in R-2 status. R-2s can not accept employment. They are, however, able to change their status to another nonimmigrant category. R-2 dependents may attend post-secondary education R-2 children lose this derivative status on their 21st birthday.

R-1 initial entrants should be granted 30 months regardless of the end date of the passport visa stamp. The total approved time for an R-1 worker to remain in the United States is five years. A previous R-1religious worker may not be readmitted or receive an extension past the five years unless he or she has been physically present outside the United States for the immediate prior year. R-1s can usually recapture time outside of theU.S. A religious worker may pursue study or training related to the religious work.