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R Visas

R Visas are issued pursuant to INA §101(a)(15)(R), 8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(15)(R); 22 C.F.R. §41.58; 8 C.F.R. §214.2(r); 60 FR 42034-37 (Aug. 15, 1995); 73 FR 72276-97 (Nov. 26, 2008).

R-1 Non Immigrant Visas are issued for:

A minister who is:

(1) Fully authorized and trained in religious denomination to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by clergy of denomination

(2) Is not a lay preacher or a person not authorized to perform clergy's duties

(3) Performs activities rationally related to being a minister and

(4) Works solely as a minister in the U.S. which may include incidental administrative duties. May be part-time (20 hours per week) 8 C.F.R. §214.2(r)(1)(ii)

(5) Deacons, practitioners of Christian Science and officers of the Salvation Army may be deemed ministers. 9 FAM 41.58 N.9.2; 9.3, and 9.4;


A Religious Worker who is:

(1) Member of a religious denomination for at least two years immediately preceding the time of application for admission that has a bona fide nonprofit 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

(a) Religious Occupation requires that the duties must primarily relate to: (i) a traditional religious function and be recognized as a religious occupation within the denomination; (ii) clearly involve inculcating or carrying out the religious creed and beliefs of the denomination; (iii) not include positions that are primarily administrative or support such as janitors, maintenance workers, clerical employees, fundraisers, person solely involved in solicitation of donations or similar positions but may include incidental administrative duties to religious functions; and (iv) not be solely for religious study or training for religious work, although a religious worker is not barred from such training or study. 8 C.F.R. §214.2(r)(3).

(b) Religious Vocation means a form lifetime commitment through vows, investitures, ceremonies or similar indicia to a religious way of life such as nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters. Distinguished from secular members of the denomination. [[Page 832]]

(c) Religious Denomination is a group or community of believers that is governed or administered under a common type of ecclesiastical government and includes one or more of the following: (i) common form of worship; (ii) common doctrine; (iii) common services; (iv) common established place of worship; or (v) comparable indicia.

Limitations on Status

Five-year maximum period unless residing abroad and physically present outside U.S. for one year. Five-year limitation does not apply if person did not reside continually in U.S. and whose employment is seasonal, intermittent, or less than 6 months per year or if the person resides abroad but regularly commutes to U.S.

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. 8 C.F.R. §§214.2(r)(1)(v), (2).

Admission or change of status is limited to 30 months for the initial period. 8 C.F.R. §214.2(r)(4)(i).

An extension of stay may be filed for an additional 30 months up to 5-year maximum, but must be accompanied by a supplemental petition, supporting documents, and information regarding previous employment as an R-1 in the form of financial or other records to establish that person worked as R-1 for first 30-month period. 8 C.F.R. §214.2(r)(5),(12).

R-1 is out-of-status if s/he works for any religious organization other than the one he obtained an approved petition. 8 C.F.R. §214.2(r)(13),

R-2 Visas for Spouses and Children of R-1 are issued pursuant to 8 C.F.R. §214.2(r)(4)(ii). R-2 Visa holders are subject to same time limits as principal R-1, irrespective of time actually spent in U.S. R-2 visa holder cannot accept employment. R-2s "are not required to demonstrate a residence abroad which they have no intention of abandoning." 9 FAM 41.58 N13.1-13.2.

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To schedule an appointment with Los Angeles visa attorney Artem M. Sarian, contact Sarian Law Group, APLC. We have offices in Glendale and Los Angeles, California, to serve you.

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