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. You must meet the following criteria if you seek a religious worker visa:
There is no requirement that you have a residence abroad that you have no intention of abandoning. However, you must intend to depart the United States at the end of your lawful status, absent specific indications or evidence to the contrary.
Your prospective employer must file Form I-129, Petition 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 or 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 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.
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.
DS160 form: DS160 application cannot be reused. A new DS160 application needs to be filled for each time applicant appears for the visa Interview.
Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.
Pay the visa application fee.
Schedule your appointment on this web page. You will need the following information in order to schedule your appointment:
Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You must bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, one photograph taken within the last six months, your current and all old passports, and the original visa fee payment receipt. Applications without all of these items will not be accepted.
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 or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The U.S. Embassy or 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:
For more information about visas for religious workers, visit the Department of State’s website.