The US has long been a place of religious freedom. In fact, some of the first arrivals in this country helped to create the US precisely because they were fleeing religious persecution at home. Not surprisingly, today, there are many types of religious visa applications which allow people from different denominations to live and work in the US.
The R1 visa, for example, is designed for foreign members of religious denominations. The R-1 religious visa allows applicants to enter the US to work in non-profit and religious work. The R-1 religious worker visa is available to liturgical workers, cantors, catechists, religious translators, workers in religious healthcare facilities (or clinics or hospitals), religious instructors, religious counselors, missionaries, or religious broadcasters. Some persons are not qualified for the R1 visa. These include fundraisers, clerks, maintenance workers or janitors, or persons involved exclusively in gathering donations.
With the R1 visa, religious workers and their dependants can travel to the US. Dependants of R1 visa holders can also attend school in the US. As well, holders of a religious worker visa can travel freely across the US border and can return without having to prove residence.
To qualify for the R-1 religious visa, you must work for an organization that qualifies as a non-non-profit religious organization, as defined by the 1986 IRS (Internal Revenue Service) code, section 501(c)(3). Your organization must either have tax-exempt status with the IRS or must qualify for tax-exempt status. In order to qualify for an R-1 visa, you must have been a member of this group for at least two years and you must be able to show the USCIS that your sole aim in entering the US is to work in a religious vocation or capacity for that organization. You must also have been outside the US for the year before your application and you must agree to leave the US after your R-1 religious visa expires. In many cases, the visa is issued for five years. This means that you can potentially remain in the US for five years, work elsewhere for one year and reapply for an R-1 visa.
If you think you qualify for an R-1 visa, you can apply for your visa online at the USCIS web site (USCIS.gov). Be sure to download the latest forms as well as the latest instructions. It is important to follow the instructions carefully, as any minor errors on your application can lead to delays or a rejection.