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New Jersey R-1 Visa Lawyer

Acquiring a Visa for Religious Workers

As a religious worker who wishes to come and work in the United States, you will at first need to file a petition with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Either you or your prospective U.S. employer will need to file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow (er), or Special Immigrant petition.

Required Documents for Your Petition

Once the USCIS has approved your petition, your petition will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). There, the NVC will assign you a case number. Once your priority date meets the most recent qualifying date, the NVC will mail you two forms: the Choice of Address and the Agent form. At this point in time the NVC will begin processing your case and notifying you which fees you will be required to pay. Important note, if you have an immigration attorney, these forms will not be sent to you.

Once your fees have been paid, the NVC will require that you submit the following documents:

  • Passport (it must be valid for 60 days beyond the expiration date of your immigrant visa)
  • Applications for the Immigrant Visa and the Alien Registration or the Online Immigrant Visa Application and Registration
  • You will need two 2x2 photographs
  • Civil documents
  • You must prove that you have a means for financial support
  • You must provide completed medical examination forms (these are provided after the medical examination)

Once the NVC has decided that you have provided them all the necessary documents, they will move forward with scheduling an interview. The NVC will send your entire file containing your petition and the above documents to the U.S. embassy or consulate where your interview will be conducted. Either you, or your attorney will receive email notifications and letters (if no email address was provided) containing the date and time of your visa interview, you will also receive information about how to obtain a medical examination. When you attend your visa interview, you should bring your valid passport along with any other supporting documentation that wasn't already provided.

Requirements for Religious Workers

Before you qualify as an immigrant religious worker, you must meet the following requirements for at least 2 years ahead of time: 1) you must have been a member of the religious organization in the United States for which you are going to work, and 2) you must have worked in the religious vocation continuously. If you are seeking status as a Minister of Religion (SD-category), you must be entering the United States strictly to practice your religion, and if you wish to qualify for a Certain Religious Worker (SR-category), you must be coming to work in the United States for the purposes of a professional or a nonprofessional capacity. Special note: if you do come into the United States under the (SR) category, you are required to enter the U.S. with your visa before September 30, 2012.

All employment based immigrant visas and religious worker visas are issued in chronological order according to when the petitions were filed. The date you file your petition becomes your "priority" date. Please note that your visa will not be issued until after your priority date has been reached. For some heavily saturated categories, the waiting period could take several years before the priority date has been reached.

Since religious worker visas are numerically limited, it's difficult to predict how long it will take to get an employment visa issued. Some cases are significantly delayed due to incomplete applications or incorrectly filled out paperwork. When such delays occur, the visa application may require further administrative processing. For this reason, it's always a wise idea to enlist the services of an immigration lawyer in New Jersey from our firm.

Get help from our New Jersey immigration law firm!

At The Law Offices of Lloyd E. Bennett, Esq., P.C. we have extensive experience in helping religious workers come and work in the United States lawfully, and we are here to guide you through the process and answer any questions that you might have along the way. We find that having an attorney assist you with the application process and in preparing the required documentation can be of great assistance, and it can help prevent further, inconvenient delays.

Contact us today to get smart and effective assistance with your R-1 visa!