Category R-1 visas are for workers who have been members of recognized religious groups for at least two years and are coming to the US to work for an affiliated religious organization in any capacity. The term ‘worker’ includes clergy, counselors, social workers, health-care workers for religious hospitals, missionaries, translators and religious broadcasters.
Some R-1 visas applicants, particularly from third world countries, come under intense scrutiny as it’s fairly common for bogus religious workers to try to use an R visa to obtain a nonimmigrant visa and then apply for a Green Card.
Religious workers include individuals authorized by a recognized employing entity to conduct religious worship and to perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion, and workers engaging in a religious vocation or occupation. The following conditions apply:
- the applicant must be a member of a religious denomination with a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the US;
- the religious denomination and its affiliate, if applicable, must be exempt from taxation or the religious denomination must qualify for tax exempt status;
- the applicant must have been a member of the denomination for the two years immediately preceding the application for religious worker status.
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