Will you be working in the United States? If so, please review the online pamphlet regarding your rights as an employee
The R-visa is for ministers of religion and full-time religious workers. The requirements for the R-visa are specific and may not be appropriate for many visitors even though their trip to the United States is for a religious activity. Visitors who do not qualify for R-visas may qualify for B-1/2 (business/tourism) visas.
New regulations require that sponsoring employers must now file an I-129 work petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in the United States for any R-visa applicant. Applicants must have an approved work petition and be in possession of the appropriate visa before entering the United States.
To qualify for an R-visa, the applicant must:
- be a member of a religious denomination having a bona-fide nonprofit, tax-exempted religious organization or affiliation in the United States.
- have been a member of the denomination for 2 years immediately preceding the application for visa
- be entering the U.S. solely to carry on the vocation of a minister or to work full-time in a religious occupation for that denomination or affiliated organization
- be the beneficiary of an approved I-129 work petition.
Additionally, if the applicant was previously in the U.S. under an R-visa for 5 years, the applicant must have resided and been physically present outside the U.S. for one year immediately prior to the present application for an R-visa.
The applicant’s affiliated denomination must show that it:
- possesses some form of ecclesiastical government
- has a recognized creed and form of worship
- has a formal code of doctrine and discipline
- holds religious services and ceremonies in established places of worship attended by congregations.
Applying for the Visa
See Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa for instructions on how and where to submit your application.
In addition to the above items, Consular officers may require other information and documentation before adjudicating the application for an R-visa, including documents to show the financial health of the religious organization seeking to employ the applicant.
There are two parts to the nonimmigrant visa fee: the application fee and the issuance fee.
The principal applicant receives an R-1 visa. Spouse and children (unmarried and under 21 years old) receive R-2 visas as the applicant’s dependents. R-2 visa holders cannot work in the U.S. Each applicant must pay separate application and separate issuance fees.