R Visas Religious Worker

March 17, 2023
The Religious Worker (R) visa is for foreign nationals coming to the United States temporarily to work in a religious capacity. Religious workers include persons who carry on the activities of a minister or who otherwise work in a religious vocation or occupation for, or at the request of, a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States. The applicant must have been a member of the denomination for at least the two (2) year period immediately preceding the application for religious worker status.

Religious Workers: Who is eligible?

Religious workers include “ministers of religion” who are authorized by a recognized denomination to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by members of the clergy of that denomination. The term does not apply to lay preachers or persons not authorized to perform clergy duties. A “religious vocation” means a calling to religious life, evidenced by the demonstration of a lifelong commitment (such as the taking of vows).

Examples include nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters. The primary duties of a “religious occupation” must relate to a traditional religious function and be recognized as carrying out the religious creeds and beliefs of the denomination; positions that are primarily administrative or support-related are not included (such as janitors, maintenance workers, clerks, fund raisers, solicitors of donations, or similar occupations).

R visa holders may remain in the United States for up to five (5) years to pursue their vocation.

Spouses and Children of R Visa holders

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be granted R-2 visa status. They may engage in the full-time or part-time study but may not accept employment in the United States.

This summary is not intended to be a legal consultation and is intended to be a general description. A legal consultation is necessary before any action is taken. Please call Birg Law (847) 579-9989.