When foreign nationals wish to enter the United States to live and work, they must first obtain either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Those who wish to enter the U.S. for the specific purpose of working in a religious capacity can apply for a Temporary religious worker (R-1) visa. If you’re a member of a legitimate religious organization and wish to gain employment in the U.S., it’s in your best interest to contact a proficient Middlesex County, New Jersey, Business Immigration Lawyer who can help you determine whether you’re eligible for an R-1 visa. Please continue reading to learn more about the R-1 visa.
What is the R-1 visa?
Religious workers interested in pursuing religious work in the U.S. may consider applying for an R-1 visa. The R-1 nonimmigrant visa allows religious workers to work for a qualifying nonprofit religious organization or church for five years. This temporary visa allows a foreign national to enter the U.S. to develop their religious vocation, occupation, or ministry. To obtain an R-1 visa, an individual must meet the following requirements:
- The foreign national must be a member of the same religious denomination as the religious organization they plan to work for at least two years before the organization files a petition on your behalf.
- The religious denomination must be a bona fide nonprofit organization exempt from taxes.
- The foreign national must be coming to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation in the U.S.
- A nonprofit organization in the U.S. must employ them.
- They must work part-time, averaging at least 20 hours per week.
How do I apply for a visa as a religious worker?
The R-1 visa is not a self-petitioning visa. Therefore, you need someone to request you come to the U.S. to work. The application process will begin with the U.S. employer filing Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers. To receive an R-1 visa at the consulate or embassy, you must have Form I-129 approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They will verify your eligibility by demonstrating the evidence you provided with your petition is valid through an interview.
If your petition is approved, you can also bring your spouse and children under R-2 status. However, they’re not allowed to work or study in the U.S. They can only accompany you to reside temporarily in the U.S. Still, you must demonstrate that you can support your family financially.
For more information about religious vocations or occupations, please don’t hesitate to contact a knowledgeable lawyer from the Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC, who can help guide you through the process ahead.