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).
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. The
applicant must meet the following criteria if you seek a religious
The applicant must be a member of a religious denomination
recognized as a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the
The religious denomination and its affiliate, if applicable, must be either exempt from taxation or qualify for tax-exempt status.
The applicant must have been:
(a) a member of the denomination for the two years immediately preceding your application for religious worker status
(b) planning to work as a minister of the denomination, or in a
religious occupation or vocation for a bona fide, nonprofit
religious organization (or a tax-exempt affiliate of such an
(c) residing and physically present outside the U.S. for the
immediate prior year, if you have previously spent five years in
There is no requirement that the applicant have a residence abroad
that have no intention of abandoning. However, the person must
intend to depart the U.S. at the end of the lawful status, absent
specific indications or evidence to the contrary.
The applicants prospective employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
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.
The applicants petition, Form I-129, must be approved before you can apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate. When the petition is approved, the 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 applicant bring your I-129 petition receipt number to your interview at the Embassy or 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.
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
applicants specific intentions, family situation, and your
long-range plans and prospects within the 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 Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy or Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.
The applicant should bring the following documents to your interview:
A letter from an authorized official of the specific unit of the applicant employing organization certifying that if your religious membership was maintained outside the United States, in whole or in part, that the foreign and United States religious organizations belong to the same religious denomination and that, immediately prior to your application for an R visa, the applicant have been a member of the religious denomination for the required two-year period.
If the applicant is a minister, that you are authorized to conduct
religious worship for that denomination. The duties should be
described in detail; or
If the applicant is a religious professional, that you have at least a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent, and that such a degree is required for entry into the religious profession; or
the applicant is to work in a nonprofessional vocation or occupation, that you are qualified if the type of work to be done relates to a traditional religious function.
The arrangements for remuneration, including the amount and source
of salary, other types of compensation such as food and housing, and
any other benefits to which a monetary value may be affixed, and a
statement whether such remuneration shall be in exchange for
The name and location of the specific organizational unit of the
religious denomination or affiliate for which you will provide
If the applicant work for an organization that is affiliated with a
religious denomination, a description of the nature of the
relationship between the two organizations.
Evidence of the religious organization's assets and methods of
Applicants organization's papers of incorporation under applicable state law.