Religious workers include ministers of religion who are authorized by a recognized denomination to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by members of the clergy such as administering the sacraments, or their equivalent. However, the term does not apply to lay preachers. Religious vocation means a calling to religious life, evidenced by the demonstration of a lifelong commitment, such as taking of vows.
An R-1 Visa may be granted to a religious worker who for the past two years has been a member of a religious denomination which has a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the United States; and who has been carrying on the vocation, professional work, or other work described below, continuously for the past two years; and seeks to enter the U.S. to work solely:
- As a minister of that denomination
- In a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation for that organization
- In a religious vocation or occupation for the organization or its nonprofit affiliate
Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require an R-2 visa. Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for a visitor (B-2 Visa).
Spouses and children of R-1 Visa holders may study in private or public schools in the United States on an R-2 Visa without obtaining a student F-1 Visa. However, spouses in the U.S. on an R-2 visa may not work. If a spouse with an R-2 Visa is seeking employment, he or she must seek the appropriate work visa to do so. As the principal R-1 Visa applicant, you must prove that you can support your family financially during your stay in the U.S.
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