‎R Religious Work Visa

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To apply for the American Religious Visa, the applicant must prove that he was a member of a RELIGIOUS denomination (Organization based in the USA or vice versa) with a legitimate non-profit organization in the United States. These legitimate religious organizations in the United States must be exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the 1986 Income Tax Code.

Persons seeking an American Religious (R) Visa should plan to enter the United States only to:

Carrying out the vocation of a pastor or religious minister or Carrying out a professional religious function or working in an organization within a denomination; or

Working in a religious capacity in an organization within a recognized denomination or for a legitimate organization affiliated with a religious denomination. Non-profit US religious organizations must be exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the 1986 Income Tax Code.

The initial admission period for religious workers and pastors entering the United States is limited to 30 months. Extensions may be granted for a total stay not to exceed five years.

 “R” Visa is only allowed for those who work in the church, that is, who have some position in it. If you are a pastor, priest, religious leader or church board member, you meet the criteria for your R Visa to be issued. However, it is not enough just to be a pastor, you must also be invited by a church in the United States. The church must act together with the US Embassy. With the application and documentation in hand, you will be able to issue your R Visa. This way, you will be able to exercise your vocation within organizations that are recognized and affiliated with religious denominations in the United States. You will be able to travel to the US with your children and spouse, however, your children must be under 21 years of age.

There are two types of R visas: R-1 and R-2.


The R1 Visa is functional for the holder. This means that it is only for the religious leader who has been asked in the United States to collaborate with the religiosity of the country. It is possible for the R1 visa holder to work and live normally in the country while exercising the profession, however, it is not allowed to exceed the maximum period of 2 years and 6 months. If it is necessary to extend the term, it is possible, but it cannot exceed 5 years.

 R-2 Visa

The R-2 visa is functional for dependents of the R1 visa holder. They are the family members who accompany the holder on his/her stay abroad. It is only possible for dependents to enter if their children are under 21 years of age and it is only to accompany the holder, which does not grant the dependent the right to work and study in the country. If the dependent wants to remain living in the country to study, he/she must apply for an F-1 visa, among other criteria for acceptance in the country.

Criteria for issuing a visa

It is important to emphasize that the religious leader must have a “clean record”. You may not have been deported from the country at all, not have been convicted of any crime or have attempted to enter the country with a false or invalid visa. In addition, you must prove that you have performed any volunteer service for at least 2 years.

How does the American religious visa work?

R visas can be issued to members of the clergy and lay workers of religious entities. It is essential that “R” visa applicants are able to demonstrate their connection to the religious denomination for a period of at least two years. Most major religions will be recognized


Mr. Alessandro Jacob speaking about Brazilian Law on "International Bar Association" conference

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