According to U.S. immigration laws, religious workers are considered to be “specialty workers” and, as such:
- Are included in the Employment Fourth Preference (E4), Certain Special Immigrants category when it comes to visas
- Are classified as either Ministers of Religion (or in the SD-category) or as Certain Religious Workers (or in the SR-category).
Qualifications Necessary for Obtaining Religious Worker Visas
In order to qualify for a religious worker visa, both the petitioning religious organization and the religious worker need to file specific documents with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to set up an interview with a consular officer at a local U.S. embassy. The consular officer will ultimately decide whether the religious worker visa should be approved.
However, the necessary documents can only be filed with the USCIS after an applicant (i.e., the religious worker) has:
- Been a member of a specific religious denomination that has a legitimate establishment in the U.S. for at least two years (and this is the same religion for which the applicant plans to work in the U.S.)
- Been continuously working in a religious vocation or occupation for at least the past two years (and intends to continue this work once in the U.S.).
- For a Ministers of Religion visa, applicants have to prove that they will only be working as ministers of their specified religious denomination.
- For a Certain Religious Workers visa, applicants must prove that they will be working, once in the U.S., in a vocation or occupation related to their specified religious denomination.
In order to get the process of obtaining religious worker visas started, applicants will have to file a Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant) with the USCIS. Because this form, as well as the following process associated with obtaining a religious worker visa, can be complicated, applicants should work with an experienced immigration lawyer for the best chances of expediting the visa approval process.
The Los Angeles, California Immigration Lawyers at the Hanlon Law Group
At the Hanlon Law Group, P.C., our Los Angeles immigration attorneys have more than 15 years of experience successfully representing clients in various types of immigration cases, including those that involve the most basic immigration applications to those associated with extremely complicated federal court litigation. Our firm offers state-of-the art technology to deliver these services efficiently while also providing each of our clients with old-fashioned personal service. That means you can count on your case progressing as quickly as possible while feeling confident that your Hanlon Law Group lawyer will answer your questions quickly, clearly and honestly.
To learn more about our citizenship, immigration and deportation defense services contact our Los Angeles immigration attorneys today by calling (626) 765-4641 or (866) 489-7612 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the screen. From our office in Pasadena, we serve clients throughout the Los Angeles area, across the state of California and from around the world.
We offer free, confidential initial consultations to provide potential clients with expert advice regarding their immigration law needs. Additionally, we are able to provide immigration legal services in various languages, including in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Bahasa Indonesian, Tagalog and Fukienese.