Religious Workers (R Visas)

R visas are issued to those affiliated with religious organizations to travel to the U.S. for the purpose of their work with that religious group. Qualifying applicants are usually clergy people or other similar religious leaders. Individuals who have taken religious vows, like nuns and monks, are also eligible. To get an R-1 visa, the applicant must show:


     He was a member of a particular religion in his home country

     Their religious institution has existed in the U.S. for at least two years.

     Their religion is one of the recognized religious beliefs (cannot be a cult or alike)

     The religious organization has 501(c)(3) status with the IRS (non-profit tax exempt).

     The applicant was a member of the religious organization for at least two years before filing for the visa.


People who may not apply for an R visa:


     Those in administrative or supporting roles of the religious organization e.g. janitors, accountants, musicians, etc.

     Religious students are not eligible for the R visa and should consider the student visa options


Family members of R-1 visa holders may apply for an R-2 visa.


R visa is issued for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months Subsequent extensions may be granted for up to an additional 30 months. The religious worker’s total period of stay in the United States in R classification cannot exceed five years.

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