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If you plan to travel soon to the United States for a temporary work activity of a religious nature, you will want to know what a type R visa is and how to apply for it. 

Applying beforehand can help immigrants in religious vocations and occupations secure their legal status and make it easier for them to work in the United States.

If you belong to a genuine religious non-profit organization in the United States, you may be eligible for this visa. Call us today, our immigration lawyers in New Jersey will be able to help you with your immigration process. 

Everything You Should Know In 2024 About the U. S. Type R Visa

Religious ministers and other clergy workers may travel to the United States or adjust their status in order to perform religious functions.

However, to obtain this visa, the foreigner must be designated as a religious worker. This means that he is an individual authorized by a recognized contracting organization to carry out religious work.

It may also carry out other activities normally performed by authorized members of the church. 

Definition Of The United States Type R Visa

The R visa is a type of American nonimmigrant visa that is only available to foreigners who perform temporary religious work in the United States.

Those who wish to travel for other work reasons that are not religious or are only devoted to a religion will not be able to qualify for the visa.

Likewise, religious workers must maintain the intention to leave the U. S. at the end of their stay. However, you can apply to USCIS for a change of status or extension of stay request. 

what are h-1b-visas

If you want to work in the U. S. for a non-religious purpose, you may be eligible to apply for an H-1B visa.

Types Of R Visas

To know what a type R visa is, you must know its 3 types of visas and classifications:

  • A-1: They are available to religious workers who wish to enter the United States to work temporarily in a religious vocation or occupation.
  • R-2: For spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of R-1 visa holders.
  • R-3: For religious workers who wish to temporarily enter the United States and perform part-time religious work
religious workers in the united states

What Are The Benefits Of A Type R Visa?

The type R visa brings with it a series of benefits for eligible immigrants. These are:

  • You are authorized to work legally in the United States for your sponsoring employer.
  • You and your dependents may remain in the United States for an initial period of 3 years.
  • Your spouse and children under 21 years of age are authorized to enter, live and study in the United States.
  • You can travel without restrictions within the territory of the United States.
  • You have the possibility of applying for the Green Card through your sponsoring employer. In addition, if you obtain it, after a few years you could be eligible to obtain American citizenship .

That being said, if you need an expert R visa application attorney, please contact us. At Curbelo Law our lawyers Curbelo and Lieberman will be able to guide you step by step throughout this entire process. 

Is It Really Possible To Obtain A Green Card With The Type R Visa?

The short answer is yes. You can adjust your status and get a Green Card if you are eligible for a fourth preference visa (EB-4 visa).

If you are eligible, you must file Form I-360 with USCIS. For more information about the availability of this visa, consult the USCIS filing tables or speak with our attorneys.

Another method to become a lawful permanent resident is through U. S. family-based immigration petitions or by marrying an American citizen. For the latter, you will require the K-1 fiancé(e) visa

Can I Work With The R Visa?

If you have the R visa, you will only be able to work for religious jobs for the duration of your visa period. Therefore, you will not be able to work for any job other than on the basis of religion.

Dependents (R-2) are not authorized to work in any type of labor. Furthermore, those who work without a permit will be considered illegal.

Some members of religious denominations may be eligible for a B-1 business visitor visa. This is in the case of wanting to enter the U. S. for a short time.

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Explore more about this topic in our blog: “How can I get a job in the United States while illegal”.

What Are The Requirements To Apply For A Type R Visa?

The requirements to meet to apply for a religious visa in the United States depend on the organization and the worker. These are:

Sponsor Requirements

  • Be a genuine, non-profit religious entity in the United States.
  • Have a valid religious purpose.
  • Demonstrate an authentic religious presence in the United States.
  • Show ability to pay the applicant’s salary.
  • Be registered with USCIS.
  • Be authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use said exemption.
  • Documentary evidence of the assets owned by the religious order and its methods of operation.
  • Documentation accrediting the incorporation of the organization into the applicable legal scheme under the framework of state law.

Requirements For The Religious Worker

  • You must belong to a bona fide, non-profit religious order established in the U. S.
  • Have remained in the religious order for a minimum of 2 years prior to applying for this visa.
  • Have the intention to leave the U. S. upon completion of their respective work.
  • If you have the category of minister, you must be authorized to carry out cults and rites of the religion to which you belong.
  • If you are a professional affiliated with a religious order, you must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
  • If you carry out your work in a non-professional vocational environment or occupation, you must be qualified to perform your function according to the religious order to which you belong.
  • Submit the detailed remuneration scheme, including the amount, the paying agency, benefits such as accommodation and food and so on.
  • Name and location of the specific unit of the religious order or associated organization to which you will serve.
  • If you will carry out your activity in an organization associated with a religious order, a description of the relationship between both organizations is necessary.

What Is The Process To Apply For A Type R Visa?

To apply for a type R visa, a U. S. employer must apply for it on behalf of the foreigner. To do this, you must file Form I-129 with USCIS.

If any of the requirements make the exercise of religion difficult, it is possible to request an exception. However, a written request explaining this reason must be submitted.

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Additionally, the petitioner will be responsible for demonstrating eligibility for the exemption and will need to support the request with appropriate documentation. 

Either way, both the employer and the religious worker must meet certain requirements in the USCIS policy manual.

Proof Of Tax Exemption

If the religious organization has its own IRS tax exemption letter , it must provide it when filing Form I-129.

If you are affiliated with a religious denomination, you will need to provide documents demonstrating the religious nature and purpose of the organization, including: 

  • A valid letter from the IRS, 
  • Organizational literature, and 
  • A certification of affiliation with the religious denomination.

For more information about this tax exemption process, call us. Our immigration lawyers will explain in detail each step to follow.

Tests For Salaried Compensation, Non-Salaried Self-Sufficiency

The employer must provide verifiable evidence about how it plans to compensate the religious worker. If IRS documents are not available, the petitioner must explain why and provide verifiable documentation.

If the beneficiary will be self-supporting as part of an established mission program, the petitioner must demonstrate:

  • Existence of a temporary unpaid missionary work program.
  • Presence of missionary programs both in the United States and abroad.
  • Acceptance of the beneficiary into the missionary program.
  • Religious obligations and responsibilities associated with unpaid missionary work.

For self-sufficiency, personal savings, lodging and food provided by host families, or donations from churches are requested.

Testing For Membership In A Religious Denomination

The employer must demonstrate that the religious employee is a member of his or her religion and is qualified for the job. To do this, they must submit their ordination certificate or other similar document.

If theological education is not required, ordination requirements and evidence that the worker meets the requirements for the job position must be provided. 

We recommend including a duplicate copy of Form I-129 and supporting documentation to avoid R visa delays. Consult our experts for more details.

Locality Inspection

USCIS may conduct on-site inspections before or after making a decision on the petition. If an inspection is performed prior to the final decision, it must be satisfactorily completed for approval. 

Additionally, the religious organization must provide a physical address where the beneficiary will work. 

Inspections may be conducted to verify the beneficiary’s schedule, salary, and responsibilities. This will be in the event of suspected fraud or substantial changes in the organization. 

How Much Does It Cost To Apply For A Type R Visa In 2024?

The cost of an R-1 visa is distributed between the religious organization and the religious worker. For example, the Form I-129 filing fee is paid by the sponsor and is $780.

On the other hand, the religious worker must pay a visa application fee. 

What Happens After My Application For The Type R Visa Is Approved?

After USCIS approves the petition, the consular office decides if the beneficiary is eligible to receive the R-1 visa. 

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determines at ports of entry whether the beneficiary can be admitted to the country. 

Visa-exempt workers must present Form I-797 as evidence of approval of Form I-129 at the port of entry.

religious type r visa

Can I Have A Dual Purpose With A Type R Visa?

With an R visa, you are expected to maintain your intention to leave the United States at the end of your temporary stay. 

However, USCIS would not deny you an R-1 visa application solely because you have:

This suggests that, although you are expected to intend to leave the country at the end of your stay, you will not be prevented from obtaining an R visa if you are exploring immigration options.

For Changes In Religious Employers

If a religious worker changed jobs, they must inform USCIS as soon as possible, but no later than 14 days. To do this, they must submit a new Form I-129 accompanied by a certification and supporting evidence.

Applicants must also notify USCIS of any termination of employment of an R-1 visa. 

For Changes In Place Of Employment

Changes in place of employment may require a modified petition and approval before the beneficiary moves. 

If a transfer is planned between locations within the same organization, the organization must file the amended petition by checking the appropriate box on Form I-129.

How Long Can I Stay In The United States With A Type R Visa?

You can stay in the United States with an R visa initially for a maximum of 30 months. 

You then have the option to request extensions, each of up to 30 months, for a maximum total stay of 5 years or 60 months. 

If you wish to apply for a new R-1 visa after you have reached the maximum period of 5 years, you must have resided outside the United States for at least one year. However, you may qualify for certain exceptions.

Can I Extend The Duration Of My Stay In The United States With An R Visa?

Yes, it is possible to extend your stay in the United States with an R visa. To do so, you must file a petition with USCIS before your current R visa expires. 

If your petition is approved, you can remain in the United States for a maximum of 30 additional months.

What Is An On-Site Inspection By USCIS For The R Visa?

USCIS sometimes conducts pre-approval inspections before granting R visas. These inspections are intended to determine whether the religious organization applying to employ the R-1 visa holder is genuine and nonprofit.

During the inspection, a USCIS officer will interview officials and employees of the religious organization, and conduct a visit to its physical facilities. 

Additionally, the organization’s legal documents, such as its articles of incorporation, bylaws, and its tax-exempt status, will be reviewed.

What Happens If My Religious Visa Is Denied?

If you are denied an R visa, you can reapply for one. As long as you believe that circumstances have changed from the original request. You may also have the opportunity to appeal your immigration decision

Immigration Lawyers To Apply For A Religious Visa

Now you know what a type R visa is and everything that involves the process for religious workers in the U. S. 

If you require the help of expert lawyers in applications for a type R visa, you can contact us for a consultation via telephone, email, online or in person. 

Our Latino lawyers in New Jersey will provide you with the advice you require. The firm will do everything in its power to find a solution to your case so you can obtain your religious visa or meet your requirements.