Religious worker visas allow foreign ministers and professional and other religious workers to enter the U.S. temporarily. To qualify for an R visa, the applicant must be:
A religious denomination is defined as a religious group that has some form of organized statement of faith, common belief system and similar ecclesiastical governing structure. The affiliated groups should have a common set of religious guidelines, perform their religious ceremonies in similar ways, use the same set of ministerial materials such as hymnbooks and worship guides and have congregations.
A religious occupation is an activity relating to “traditional religious functions.” This would include religious counselors, cantors, liturgical ministers and workers, religious hospital and health care workers, missionaries, religious translators and broadcasters. It would not include individuals who work for the denomination in a non-religious capacity.
It would also include anyone who is in a religious vocation, defined as someone called to religious life and service. This must be shown through demonstrated commitment to the denomination, the taking of vows and other types of life commitments. This would include nuns, monks, brothers, and deacons.
The maximum stay in R-1 status is 5 years. A person can obtain R-1 status again after remaining outside the U.S. for one year before making another application.
Spouses and children of R-1 nonimmigrants and classified as R-2. They are not permitted to work in R-2 status.
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