Temporary Religious Workers

Temporary Religious Workers

Immigration Law – Employment: Temporary Visas For Religious Workers

Temporary Visas For Religious Workers


  • The Religious worker must have a genuine non-profit religious organization seeking to employ him or her. The organization must have its own tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service or be affiliated with an organization that is tax-exempt.
  • The worker must have belonged and worked in a similar type of religious organization in his or her home country for at least two years prior to the filing of the petition. If there is no formal affiliation, the two religious organizations must share a common type of ecclesiastical doctrine and government.
  • The worker must be coming to the United States to work at least part time, consisting of 20 hours per weeks, as a religious worker.
  • Religious workers include ministers and liturgical workers, religious instructors, religious counselors, catechists, workers in religious hospitals, missionaries, religious translators and broadcasters.
  • Religious workers do not include administrative workers or those involved in maintaining the premises of the religious organization, such as janitors and grounds-keepers.


  • First the Petition for the Temporary Religious Worker is filed with USCIS, along with extensive supporting documents.
  • Once the Petition is approved, the foreign religious worker, if in his home country, may apply for the R-1 visa with the U.S. Consulate abroad.
  • If the foreign religious worker is already in the United States on a B-1 visa as a business visitor, he may apply for a change of status with the petition.
  • When the petition is approved, it is valid for 5 years, and it can be renewed.
  • The religious worker may bring his or her family.

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