R Visa – Religious Non-Immigrant Workers

This visa applies to an alien who,for at least the two years immediately preceding the time of application for admission, has been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States. The alien may be admitted temporarily to the United States to carry on the activities of a religious worker for a period not to exceed five years. The alien must be coming to the United States for one of the following purposes:

  • Solely to carry on the vocation of a minister of the religious denomination; or
  • To work for the religious organization at the request of the organization in a professional capacity; or to work for the organization, or a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination,at the request of the organization in a religious vocation or occupation.


Bona Fide Nonprofit Religious Organization in the United States

An organization exempt from taxation as described in Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.


An individual duly authorized by a recognized religious denomination to conduct religious worship and to perform other duties usually performed by clergy of that religion.

Professional Capacity

An activity in a religious vocation or occupation for which the minimum of a United States baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree is required.

Religious Denomination

A religious group or community of believers having some form of ecclesiastical government, a creed or statement of faith, some form of worship, a formal or informal code of doctrine and discipline, religious services and ceremonies, established places of religious worship, and religious congregations, or comparable indicia of a bona fide religious denomination.

Religious Occupation

An activity which relates to a traditional religious function. Examples of persons in religious occupations include, but are not limited to, liturgical workers, religious instructors, religious counselors, cantors, catechists, workers in religious hospitals or religious health care facilities, missionaries, religious translators,or religious broadcasters. This group does not include janitors, maintenance workers, clerks, fund raisers,or persons involved solely in the solicitation of donations.

Religious Vocation

A calling to religious life evidenced by the demonstration of commitment practiced in the religious denomination, such as the taking of vows. Examples of persons with a religious vocation include, but are not limited to, nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters.

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