The R-1 religious worker visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals in religious occupations to enter into the U.S. and perform the duties of a religious worker and the R-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows the spouses and unmarried children of R-1 religious workers to enter into the U.S. and reside with their family.
Religious workers include persons authorized, by a recognized employing entity, to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion, and workers engaging in a religious vocation or occupation.
- The applicant must be a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the U.S.;
- The religious denomination and its affiliate, if applicable, are either exempt from taxation or qualifies for tax-exempt status; and
- The applicant has been a member of the denomination for two years immediately preceding applying for religious worker status. The applicant is planning to work as a minister of that denomination, or in a religious occupation or vocation for a bona fide, non-profit religious organization (or a tax-exempt affiliate of such an organization).There is no requirement that individuals applying for “R” visas have a residence abroad that they have no intention of abandoning. However, they must intend to depart the U.S. at the end of their lawful status, absent specific indications or evidence to the contrary. The applicant has resided and been physically present outside the U.S. for the immediate prior year, if he or she has previously spent five years in this category.
The documents required for R-1 visa are:
• Filled in Form I-129 nonimmigrant visa application with supporting documents.
• Proof that you are working as a minister of religion, or in a religious vocation or occupation, for a bona-fide, non-profit religious organization or denomination that is exempt from taxation.
• Proof that you have been a member of the religious organization for at least two years prior to your application.
• A contract from the employer in the U.S proof, such as bank statements, that the employer is able to support the applicant above the poverty line
• Recommendation letters to further support your case.
• IRS-supplied proof of the tax-exempt status of the religious organization in the U.S.
• Evidence that you are qualified for the work designated in the U.S.
• Documents showing arrangements for financial support.
In addition to all documents required for R-1 visa, you will require for R2:
• Your marriage registration certificate, and an original birth certificate for each child.
• Other evidence of a marital relationship, such as wedding ceremony photos. Please submit no more than 30 and please do not submit entire albums
• A good quality photocopy or the original of your spouse’s passport – all 36 pages. The copy of the passport submitted should be a clear copy and the photo must be clearly identifiable.
• Documents showing arrangements for financial support for the entire family.
• The copy of the contract between the employer and the employee in the U.S.
Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee: You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.
Visa issuance fee: Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is
Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.
Important Notice: Before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants or their representatives will need to wait at least 60 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.