The foundation of the Law Office of Nathan Christensen was arguably started in 1996 when attorney Christensen moved to Honduras for two years to work as a volunteer for his church. Because of this, people who want to come to the United States as a religious worker hold a special place in our hearts. We love doing religious worker visas because we need all the blessings we can get. Because of this love of religious visas, we have become very good and very successful at obtaining them for our clients.
The United States allows a religious worker to work legally in the U.S. for a sponsoring church or organization. There are two ways to immigrate with a religious vocation, (1) with a temporary visa, and (2) with permanent residency. We will discuss each one below.
Temporary R-1 Visa
An R-1 is a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.
To qualify, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of the petition.
An R-1 religious worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany the principal religious worker with what is called an R-2 visa.
Permanent Residence through a Petition from a Religious Organization
– Special Immigrant Religious Workers –
Ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations may immigrate to or adjust status in the United States for the purpose of performing religious work in a full-time compensated position.
To qualify as a special immigrant religious worker, the foreign national must:
- Have been a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of a petition for this status with USCIS.
- Seek to enter the United States to work in a full time, compensated position in one of the following occupations:
- Solely as a minister of that religious denomination;
- A religious vocation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity;
- A religious occupation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity;
AND- Be coming to work for either:
- A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States; or
- A bona fide organization that is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States.
A religious worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany or follow to join the principal religious worker or adjust status in the United States.
Before applying for either of these visas, it is important that your church gathers all the information necessary to prove that it is a legitimate religious organization with the ability to compensate as promised. Most religious workers will use the help of an immigration attorney.
Our firm has successfully obtained numerous religious worker visas and we can help you as well. We have many successful client stories and have below you will find a client review from one of the churches we represent. After doing your own research, we invite you to give us a call to see if you or your church qualifies for this type of visa.
Actual Client Review
As an established church in West Texas for 35 years now, we have always needed good immigration advice and help because we sponsor Pastors and Teachers from Canada and Mexico. In the past 4 years, Nate Christensen has been instrumental in getting 4 R-1 Visas approved for us. Just this year he was able to get one of our pastors Permanent Residency through a petition from our church. In fact, his whole family received a green card.
Nathan’s attention to detail and his focus on each case brings about much-needed success. Nate is always accessible and willing to do what it takes to get a case resolved, whether its research, or behind-the-scenes contacts. What we have also appreciated is his honesty when a case is not do-able. I know attorneys who would gladly take our money and run, but Nate has won our trust with his hard work on our behalf, and again, his honesty. We know you will appreciate him too.
Mennonite Evangelical Church