Just like other visas the United States provides a particular entry permit for religious workers who wish to come to the US and work for a religious entity. This is called the R-1 visa, which allows individuals to be in the US for a duration of 5 years. However, the religious organisation that the individual intends to associate with professionally has to be registered as a non-profit organization in the US, affiliated to any religious group in the country, or a religious organisation with a group tax exemption.
Are All Religious Workers Eligible Under The Category?
Religious workers who fulfil the suitability formalities and finish the application process can work in the US in their profession. Having said that all religious workers are not permitted to work in the US under this category of visa. This permit primarily applies to ministers and those who are linked directly to religious work. No administrative and clerical employees or any support personnel can seek the R-1 visa as they must apply for other appropriate visas.
People who acquire the R-1 visa are free to reside and work in the US till the expiry of the visa. They can open bank accounts, apply for driver’s licenses and study in educational institutions of the country as well. They are free to opt for any course, be it part-time or full-time. They are also allowed to travel in and out of the US, and the duration for which they remain outside the country will not come under their total visa duration also.
However, the person seeking the R-1 visa has to meet these criteria:
- He or she needs to be a member of religion for the past two years
- The concerned religion should have a non-profit organization in the US
- He or she should get a job offer from a non-profit religious organization, or an organization linked to the religion
- The applicant should be a minister or a person working directly in the religious occupation
- The applicant should be putting in at least 20 hours per week (part-time) in a relevant professional sphere
- The applicant is allowed to work only in a religious capacity, not in other arenas