Immigration Center of
Ekaterina Mouratova, PA

Religious servants (R visas)

R Visas can be granted to foreigners intending to work in the United States as ministers or non-ministers of a religious organization. When planning to migrate to the United States as a religious minister or for a non-minister position, there are a few considerations to look into that will help your visa application process easier, an example of which is whether you intend to hold a permanent position or a part-time position as a religious minister. Part-time work refers to all religious activities that are undertaken by you for less than 20 hours a week. The position should be fully compensated for by the religious organization. 

Your first step should be to consult an immigration lawyer. By doing this, you will be able to understand the requirements and obtain all the required documents in a timely fashion. The process itself is intricate and lengthy; therefore, seeking counsel from an experienced professional would be in your best interest.

The Requirements

Your immigration attorney will be able to ask you the appropriate questions as well as provide you with the list of entailing requirements that include:


- You must be a member of your religious organization for the past two years. This means that the body you choose to work for in the US must be affiliated with the immediate organization that has employed you.

- There are various options you have when you seek a position to work in a religious institution, which must also be a nonprofit organization in the US. You can either work as a full-time minister of the group or hold a non-minister position, which requires professional skills.

- You have worked in the same organization for more than two years but not necessarily in the US. If you had to cut short the employment for reasons that are related to the religion such as further studies, but the duration did not exceed two years, this will not affect your application.

There are documents you will be required to submit at the immigration office. These include:

- Evidence that you are qualified to handle the position. The requirements may include but not be limited to certificates of education and ministerial work acceptance documents.

- Proof that the organization approves of your qualifications and that you have completed the required procedures as laid down by the same religious group.

- Documents that show you were salaried including the total amount and deductibles. Other sources of income should also be revealed.

The religious organization should prove that they have prepared adequately for the religious servant’s migration to the United States by providing compensation documents and plans for the provision of proper housing and catering for any other needs that may arise. These will include long-term budgets on the compensation plan and additional requirements such as a lease. Proof of how they were able to take care of such ministerial workers in the past will be substantial.

Upon a successful application, the children or the spouse of the applicant can follow the religious servant to the United States.

A qualified immigration attorney will be able to inform you of the necessary documents that you should obtain from your current employer and the affiliated organization in the United States. Having your immigration lawyer handle the process for you will relieve you of the burden of time constraint, allowing you to take care of other issues as you prepare for your work in the US.



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