Not everyone who works for a religious organization can qualify. The job the applicant is seeking must be a “religious occupation.” Religious jobs, according the USCIS, include positions that:
- “Relate to a traditional religious function”
- The denomination would recognize the position as being a religious job
- Are designed to fulfil the denomination’s beliefs and creed.
Secular positions that do not qualify for an R-1visa if they are to help out a qualifying religious organization include:
- Clerical workers
- Maintenance staff
Studying for a religious positions also does not qualify as a religious occupation – though applicants who apply for an R-1 visa may be allowed to continue their studies while they work.
Ministers are generally people that the religious organization has properly authorized (through training, standards, of conduct, and membership in the religious organization) to conduct religious services/worship and other standard clergy duties. There’s no specific type of training requirement. The petitioner who seeks approval for a foreign applicant must attest that that the applicant is properly qualified to perform his/her religious occupation in the United States.
This term isn’t a formal affiliation. It requires “shared faith and worship practice.” It does require at least two-year membership in the denomination for the period immediately prior to the petition filing date – “in the same type of religious denomination as the U.S. religious organization where the beneficiary will work. (See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(3) emphasis added).”
This immigration term “applies to a religious group or community of believers governed or administered under a common type of ecclesiastical government.” To satisfy the religious denomination category, one or more of the following requirements must be met:
- “A common form of worship”
- A common creed or faith statement that is recognized and shared by the members of the denomination
- Services and ceremonies that are regularly recognized
- Formal doctrines and disciplines that are recognized
- Common religious places of worship or congregation that are well-known
- “Comparable indicia of a bona fide religious denomination”
Some exceptions may apply according to the USCIC for religious denominations that don’t have a central governing body or an ecclesiastical government.