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Religious Workers Options

Jan 19, 2011 4:29:50 AM / by Staff Attorney

Religious Workers can come to the United States to work through either a permanent resident program or as a nonimmigrant temporary worker. We have shared a summary of the basic requirements below. If you feel you may qualify for one of these options, contact our office to schedule a telephone or in-person consultation. We provide very reasonable rates for all religious worker visas.

Green Card for Religious Workers (4th Employment Based Preference), no wait…

1. For at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the petition, the person "has been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide, nonprofit, religious organization in the United States," and;

2. The person seeks to enter the U.S.

  1. To work full time (35 hours) in a compensated position,
  2. Solely to carry on his or her vocation as a minister, or
  3. To work for a bona fide, nonprofit religious organization in the U.S. or its affiliate in the U.S.; and

3. The person has been working as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation, either abroad or in lawful status in the U.S. for at least the 2–year period immediately preceding the filing of the petition.

R-1 Temporary Worker (Nonimmigrant Visa)

Must meet the following qualifications:

1. Minister

  1. The visa applicant must be a minister (Clergy or deacon, not lay preacher)
  2. Perform activities rationally related to being a minister and
  3. Works solely as a minister while in the U.S. which may include incidental administrative duties. May be part-time (20 hours per week)

2. Or a Religious Worker

  1. Member of a religious denomination for at least two years immediately preceding the time of application for admission that has a bona fide religious organization in the U.S.
  2. Must be coming to work at least in a part-time position (20 hours)
  3. Must be coming to perform a religious vocation or occupation in either a professional or nonprofessional capacity with duties that must primarily relate to:
  • A traditional religious function
  • That carries out the religious creed and beliefs of the denomination
  • Not include positions that are primarily administrative or support such as maintenance, clerical employee, or fundraiser etc.
  • Not be solely for religious study or training for religious work, although a religious worker is not barred from such training or study
  • Five-year maximum period

3. May not work in the U.S. in any other capacity but as a minister or religious worker, but may work for more than one qualifying employer as long as each files a petition.

4. Spouse and Children can come but cannot accept employment.

Scott McVarish, Lead Attorney at the Immigration Law Office of Los Angeles, is available for speaking engagements, interviews, seminars and trainings on this and many other immigration law topics. Providing pro bono (donated) legal services at such community education events are part of this law office's "Giving Back" to the community philosophy.

Topics: Green Card, Work Visas

Staff Attorney

Written by Staff Attorney

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