RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE VISAS


R-1 TEMPORARY NON-IMMIGRANT RELIGIOUS WORKERS

This visa is for a person who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.

The person must have been a member of a religious denomination in the United States for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of the petition.

The initial period of admission can be up to 30 months. Subsequent extensions may be granted for up to an additional 30 months. The total period of stay cannot exceed 5 years (60 months).

The persons spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for R-2 classification. An R-2 dependent is not authorized to accept employment based on this visa classification.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED IMMIGRATION: FOURTH PREFERENCE EB-4

Ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations may immigrate to or adjust status in the United States for the purpose of performing religious work in a full-time compensated position.

To qualify as a special immigrant religious worker, the foreign national must:

1. Have been a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of a petition for this status with USCIS.

2. Seek to enter the United States to work in a full time, compensated position in one of the following occupations:

  • Solely as a minister of that religious denomination;
  • A religious vocation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity;
  • A religious occupation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity; or
  • A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States.

3. Be coming to work for either:

  • A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States; or
  • A bona fide organization that is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States.

4. Have been working in one of the positions described above after the age of 14, either abroad or in lawful immigration status in the United States, continuously for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of a petition with USCIS. The prior religious work need not correspond precisely to the type of work to be performed. A break in the continuity of the work during the preceding two years will not affect eligibility so long as:

  • The foreign national was still employed as a religious worker;
  • The break did not exceed two years; and
  • The nature of the break was for further religious training or for sabbatical that did not involve unauthorized work in the United States. However, the foreign national must have been a member of the petitioner’s denomination throughout the two years of qualifying employment.

A special immigrant religious worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany or follow to join the principal religious worker or adjust status in the United States.