Immigration. Travel. Living.

USA: R visa obtaining

Visa of USA

  • Visa type (R-1) – issued to religious leaders from foreign countries to carry out work in America.
  • Visa type (R-2) – intended for family members of holders of a religious R-1 visa.

The R-1 religious visa allows you to

  • Take part in church events in the United States;
  • Receive payment for religious activities;
  • Enter and exit the United States multiple times;
  • Apply for a Residence Permit (“Green Card”);
  • The spouses and children (under the age of 21 and unmarried) of an R-1 visa holder are eligible for an R-2 visa to stay in the United States. However, R-2 visas are not eligible to work in the United States;
  • Children on an R-2 visa can attend school.

The R-1 visa can be applied for

  • Priests. These can be priests, pastors, rabbis, etc., who are authorized to conduct services, perform rituals and perform other duties of the clergy;
  • Professional religious workers. People with higher education (bachelor’s degree or higher) in the religious field;
  • Constant adherents of the spiritual life, that is, monks, nuns, spiritual brothers, and sisters who have a religious vow;
  • The non-professional staff of religious organizations: church officials, church-sponsored hospital staff, missionaries, readers, methodologists, choir members, religious translators.
  • Street cleaners, church keepers, various laborers, novices, and fundraisers. Applicants for this visa cannot be.

The religious organization represented by the Applicant must

  • be present both in the United States and in the applicant’s country of residence;
  • be exempt from taxation in the United States;
  • have sufficient funds to support the Applicant and his dependent family members during their stay in the United States.

The applicant must

  • be an official member of such an organization in his country of residence for at least two years at the time of application for a visa;
  • go to the United States exclusively to work as a clergyman or staff member of this organization (its branch);
  • demonstrate intent to leave the United States at the end of the appropriate legal period of stay, unless there are special circumstances that would permit the extension of this status.

If the US visa applicant is engaged in religious activities but is not eligible for an R visa, he may apply for a B1 / B2 visa for business and leisure travel.

Before the Applicant applies to the US Embassy (Consulate) for an R-1 visa, his prospective employer (sponsor) in the United States must file a petition (Form I-129) with USCIS for each religious worker. The Form I-129 petition must be approved before applying for a visa at the US Embassy. R visa applications without an accepted petition will not be accepted.

Documents required to apply for an R visa

  • General package of documents for obtaining a visa;
  • Providing the number of the accepted petition I-129;
  • Certificate issued by the U. S. Internal Revenue Service that a religious organization in the United States is tax-exempt;

Documents issued by a US religious organization confirm

  • links between an organization in the United States and a religious denomination abroad;
  • the duration of membership in a religious denomination abroad;
  • the applicant’s rights to perform the function of a clergyman and (or) the nature of the duties of a professional religious worker;
  • agreements on remuneration for the Applicant’s service in the United States;
  • the name and location of the religious congregation or organization in which the Applicant will serve in the United States.

Certificate of bachelor’s degree in the case when the applicant is a professional religious worker. For the husband/wife and children of R-1 visa holders – proof of family ties with the main visa holder (marriage certificate, child’s birth certificate).

The R-1 visa is issued for up to 5 years. If the applicant has already received a religious visa, then before re-applying for this type of visa, he must have lived outside the United States for at least a year.

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