San Diego R-1 Temporary Religious Workers Visa Lawyer
Temporary Religious Workers
Temporary religious worker (R-1) visas are intended for persons who want to enter the United States to work temporarily in religious capacities. The R-1 visa is the most advantageous category for a religious candidate or postulant. It allows the individual to engage in a variety of formation and ministry experiences required by the religious institute for up to five years. This non-immigrant visa allows religious workers such as ministers and persons working in the religious vocation or occupation to work in the U.S. and eventually apply for a green card for permanent residence. R-1 requirements mandate at least part time employment with an average of at least 20 hours per week by a non-profit religious organization in the U.S. (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the U.S.) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.
F-1 Student Visa
Many individuals who seek an R-1 visa currently hold a F-1 student visa. In the United States, churches have come to increasing rely on foreign-born seminarians for potential positions in the U.S. Upon completion of their studies, these seminarians often times seek admission to work temporarily in religious capacities under the R-1 visa. Many seminarians have studied under scholarships awarded by religious institutions, and have studied under F-1 visas in church operated seminaries in the U.S. or may have been sponsored by various religious orders to enter colleges or universities.
Religious institutions in the United States frequently receive inquiries from individuals abroad expressing a desire to discern and pursue a call to religious life within their communities. Some religious institutes do not have a presence in the individual’s home country. Others have a presence but conduct all their formation programs in the U.S. Once the individual has completed the religious institute’s application process and has been admitted into the postulancy or candidacy, they then may apply for a R-1 visa to enter the United States to begin the formation program.
Ministers of a recognized religious denomination have been authorized to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by members of the clergy such as administering the sacraments, or their equivalent. The term does not apply to lay preachers.
Workers in a Religious Vocation or Occupation include professional workers who are persons that want to work in a religious vocation or occupation that requires a U.S. bachelor degree or its foreign equivalent.
Qualified applicants also may include other religious workers who are the persons that are currently working in a religious vocation or occupation.
To qualify, applicants must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
An R-2 visa may be obtained by a spouse and minor children of R-1 visa holders if they wish to visit or accompany the R-1 visa holder to the United States. An R-2 visa holder may remain in the US as long as the R-1 visa holder remains in legal status. An R-2 visa holder may change his or her status in the US. Neither the spouse nor any child may accept employment while in the United States in R-2 non immigrant status.
The Department of State and U.S. consular officers may sometimes refuse an R-1 visa to candidates and postulants because they do not have two years of “experience” in either the religious vocation or occupation. This reason is a simple misunderstanding of the law, since the R-1 visa requires only that
there be two years of membership in the denomination, not two years of experience. Only the permanent Special Immigrant visa classification for ministers and religious workers requires two years of experience.
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