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Can a religious organization help you get into the United States?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2022 | Immigration Law

For years, ministers and others from U.S.-based churches have traveled the world to spread what they believe in. The opportunity also exists for those from other countries to enter the U.S. to do so.

You certainly cannot apply to enter the U.S. just because you adhere to a particular religion. You may, however, be able to secure a visa if you intend to work for a particular religious organization.

How do you prove that is what you will do?

Your potential employers must complete and submit Form I-129, also known as a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

The immigration authorities may choose to visit the site you will be working at before approving your request. They may also do so afterward to check things are as you said they would be. Here are some of the requirements you must meet:

  • You must have been a member of the organization for at least two years before applying.
  • The religious organization must be non-profit, and it must be genuine. You cannot just get a U.S.-based friend to start their own religion in order to bring you over.
  • You will work a minimum of 20 hours per week

How long can I stay if approved?

Approval would earn you an R1-Non immigrant visa. This has a maximum time allowance of 30 months, but you could apply for a 30-month extension. If you get an R1 visa, you can apply to bring certain family members in on an R2 visa.

There are many options for immigrating to the United States. Consider legal help to find out more since the situation can often become complicated.