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R    Religious Worker

R Visa

Religious Worker

What is R visa?

The R-1 visa is for ministers or persons to enter the U.S. working in a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation.

The R-2 visa is for spouse and children of R-1 visa holders to accompany R-1 holders in the U.S.

Who can apply for R visa?

The following persons may qualify for R-1 visa:

• A Minister.

• A person Working in a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation. Religious occupation refers to traditional relogious function, e.g., cantors, translators, religious broadcasters, lay workers in religious hospitals, etc. Religious vocation refers to traditional religious founction such as nun and monk.

• A person Working for a religious organization in a religious vocation or occupation; and the person has been a member of the religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit organization in the U.S. for at least two years immediately before the application of R-1 visa.

Benefits and Limitations of R visa:

• R-1 holders may seek applying permanent residence (green card) under the 4th preference of Employment Immigration.

• R-1 family dependents can stay in the U.S. as R-2 as long as the principal R-1 status remains valid.

• R visa applicants can apply for R visa from a U.S. Consulate abroad without prior U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval.

• The R visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa. There is a limitation of 5 years maximum. If a R visa applicant has used up his or her 5 years in the U.S., the applicant has to be out of the U.S. for a year, except for brief visits.

How to apply for R visa?

• If you are not in the United States at this time, you should use forms DS-156 and DS-157 to apply the R-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate office.

• If you are currently in the United States and in a status other than R-1, your employer should use form I-129 to petition for the R-1 status for you.  Your spouse and children should use form I-539 to apply for R-2 status.

• If you are already in the United States and in the R-1 status and wish to extend the period of stay, your employer should use form I-129 to apply for the R-1 extension for you.  Your spouse and children should use form I-539 to apply for R-2 status extension.

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