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Working visa for church ministers (R)

Overview

The R visa type is for individuals seeking to enter the United States to work in a religious capacity on a temporary basis, as defined in The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) §101(a)(15)(R).

Qualifications

Religious workers include persons authorized by a recognized entity to conduct religious worship and undertake other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion, and workers engaging in a religious vocation or occupation. You must meet the following criteria if you seek a religious worker visa:

Petitions

Your prospective employer must file Form I-129Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more detailed information regarding the filing of Form I-129, as well as requirements, please refer to the USCIS R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Worker web page.

Note: Prospective employers should file the petition as soon as possible (but not more than 6 months before the proposed employment will begin) in order to provide adequate time for petition and subsequent visa processing.

Your petition, Form I-129, must be approved before you can apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. When your petition is approved, your employer or agent will receive a Notice of Action, Form I-797, which serves as your petition's approval notification. The consular officer will verify your petition approval through the Department of State's Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) during your interview.

You must bring your I-129 petition receipt number to your interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in order to verify your petition's approval. Please note that approval of a petition does not guarantee issuance of a visa if you are found to be ineligible for a visa under U.S. immigration law.

Application Items

If you apply for a religious worker visa, you must submit the following:

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

How to Apply

Step 1
Pay the visa application fee.

Step 2
Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.

Step 3
Schedule your appointment on this web page. You will need three pieces of information in order to schedule your appointment:

Step 4
Visit the U.S. Embassy/Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You will need to bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, one recent photograph, your current passport and all old passports. Applications without all of these items will not be accepted.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in a sealed envelope. The U.S. Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

You should bring the following documents to your interview. Original documents are always preferred over photocopies and you must bring these documents with you to the interview. Do not fax, email or mail any supporting documents to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

More Information

For more information about visas for religious workers, visit the Department of State's website.

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