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Religious Worker - R visa

Religious Ministers or Workers (R-1 Visas)

Religious ministers or workers may qualify for the religious worker classification "R" visa if, for the two years immediately preceding the time of application, they have been a member of a religious denomination which has a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States. Bona fide religious organizations in the United States must have tax exempt status as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

If you are seeking R status you must be entering the United States solely to:

  • Carry on the vocation of a minister of the religious denomination; or
  • Work in a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation or organization within the denomination; or
  • Work in a religious vocation or occupation for an organization within the denomination, or for a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination. Bona fide religious organizations in the United States must have tax exempt status as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Your employment must be approved in advance by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States on the basis of a petition, Form I-129, filed by the United States employer.  Any questions that you may have should be directed to USCIS.  You will find further information on their website at www.uscis.gov .

  • Missionary Work

    Missionary Work

    • If you are performing missionary work on behalf of a religious denomination you may be eligible for a B-1 visa, provided you will receive no salary or remuneration from the United States other than an allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to your stay, and the work which you are to perform in the United States will not involve the selling of articles or the solicitation or acceptance of donations.  If you meet the criteria for traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (WVP), you will not be required to apply for the visa.  Click here for further information. 

      If you are not eligible to travel visa free you will be required to apply for a B-1 visa.  Click here and follow Steps 2 – 6. 

      When applying for a visa, or entry into the United States with a visa or under the VWP, you should furnish a letter from your U.S. sponsor explaining in detail the nature of your visit.

  • Evangelical Tour

    Evangelical Tour

    • If you are to engage in an evangelical tour and do not plan to take an appointment with any one church you may be eligible for a B-1 visa, provided you will receive no remuneration from a U.S. source, other than the offerings contributed at each evangelical meeting.  If you meet the criteria for traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you will not be required to apply for the visa.  If you meet the criteria for traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (WVP), you will not be required to apply for the visa.  Click here for further information. 

      If you are not eligible to travel visa free you will be required to apply for a B-2 visa.  Click here and follow Steps 2 – 6. 

      When applying for a visa, or entry into the United States with a visa or under the VWP, you should furnish a letter from your U.S. sponsor explaining in detail the nature of your visit.

  • Preaching

    Preaching

    • If you will be preaching in the United States for a temporary period, or will be exchanging pulpits with your U.S. counterpart you may be eligible for a B-1 visa, provided you will continue to be reimbursed by your church in the United Kingdom and you will receive no salary from the host church in the United States. If you meet the criteria for traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (WVP), you will not be required to apply for the visa.  Click here for further information. 

      If you are not eligible to travel visa free you will be required to apply for a B-2 visa.  Click here and follow Steps 2 – 6.  When applying for a visa, or entry into the United States with a visa or under the VWP, you should furnish a letter from your U.S. sponsor explaining in detail the nature of your visit.

  • Voluntary Service Program

    Voluntary Service Program

    • If you will participate in a voluntary service program which benefits a U.S. local community, and you establish that you are a member of, and have a commitment to, a particular recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization, you may be eligible for a B-1 visa.  In order to qualify, the the work to be performed must traditionally be done by volunteer charity workers; you will receive no salary or remuneration from a U.S. source, other than an allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to your stay in the United States; and you will not engage in the selling of articles and/or the solicitation and acceptance of donations.

      A voluntary service program is an organized project conducted by a recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization to provide assistance to the poor or the needy, or to further a religious or charitable cause.

      If you meet the criteria for traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (WVP), you will not be required to apply for the visa.  Click here for further information.  If you are not eligible to travel visa free you will be required to apply for a visa and should click here and follow Steps 2 – 6.  When applying for a visa, or entry into the United States with a visa or under the VWP, you should furnish a letter from your U.S. sponsor which contains the following information:

      • Your name and date and place of birth;
      • Your foreign permanent residence address;
      • The name and address of initial destination in the U.S.; and
      • The anticipated duration of your assignment

      If your proposed activities as a voluntary worker are not exactly as described, you will require either an exchange visitor (J-1) or temporary worker (H-2B) visa. 

  • Checking the status of a petition filed with USCIS

    Checking the status of a petition filed with USCIS

    • If a petition has been filed on your behalf with USCIS, you check the status of your application online at www.uscis.gov by entering the petition receipt number into the Case Status box on the left-hand side of the page.  Your employer should be able to provide you with the receipt number of the petition.

  • Entry and period of stay

    Entry and period of stay

    • The holder of an R visa may enter the United States up to 10 days before the start date of the petition and remain for 10 days after the end date of the petition. He or she may only work during the validity period of the petition. 

      Once the petition has been approved in your name, click here and follow steps 2 - 6.

 

Once the petition has been approved in your name, click here and follow steps 2-6.

Still have a question? Click here for further information.

Filing a petition with USCIS

Spouses, Children & Partners

  • Spouses, Children & Partners

    Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require derivative R-2 visas. Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas, or if qualified, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

    More information for partners and common-law spouses.

    R-2 versus F-1

    There is no requirement that the spouse and/or children of an R-1 visa holder apply for a student (F-1) visa if they wish to study in the U.S.; they may study on an R-2 visa.  However, if they are qualified, they may apply for the F-1 visa. If you have school age children, you should refer to the regulations governing the issuance of F-1 visas.

    Working on an R-2 visa

    The spouse and child of an R-1 visa holder tor may not work in the United States on a derivative R-2. If he or she is seeking employment, the appropriate work visa will be required.