The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency has a checklist of items that they recommend religious workers seeing a green card and the religious organizations that sponsor these religious workers review. The list is for informational purposes. The religious workers and religious organizations should review all the religious worker green card requirements with an experienced immigration attorney.

The USCIS also advises that original documents should not be sent unless they are specifically requested according to the relevant instructions and regulations. The main form that needs to be filed is uscis.gov/i-360.

If any documents are submitted (copies or original documents) that are in a foreign language, then the applicant/sponsor should include a complete English translation -and a certification from a translator stating that the translation is complete and accurate. The translator should also verify that he/she has the necessary qualifications to translate from the foreign language to English.

What’s In the religious worker checklist?

Applicants for a religious green card, whether they are applying form a foreign country or they are applying from the US because they’ve already obtained an R-1 visa, should verify that they have the following documentation:

  • IRS documentation. A religious organization should submit the IRS determination letter confirming that the religious organization either is tax-exempt or that the religious group that covers the religious organization has a group tax exemption – along with a showing that the religious organization is part of the group.
  • If a bona fide organization doesn’t directly qualify as a religious organization but is affiliated with a religious denomination, then the organization must have documentation showing that:
  • “It was granted tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) of 1986 section 501(c)(3) (or a subsequent amendment or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the IRC) as something other than a religious organization.” The documentation should include all of the following:
    • “A valid determination letter from the IRS establishing the organization is a tax-exempt organization
    • Documentation that establishes the religious nature and purpose of the organization
    • Organizational literature describing the religious purpose and nature of the activities of the organization and
    • A Religious Denomination Certification completed, signed, and dated by the religious organization certifying the petitioning organization is affiliated with the religious denomination.”
  • A Prospective Employer Attestation (this attestation is part of Form I-360, Part 9) and certification by an authorized official of the employer for the employee seeking a religious green card – that is signed, dated, and completely filled out.
  • Employee compensation evidence. The religious organizations should provide evidence that verifies how the organization will pay the beneficiary. Payment includes salaried compensation and non-salaried compensation.
  • Membership requirements. The religious organization should provide evidence that the religious worker, for at least two years or more prior to the petition for the green card filing date, has been a member of the religious denomination.
  • Continuous working requirement. The religious organization should provide documentation to show that the religious worker “has been working continuously, after turning 14 years of age, in one of the positions listed below” – either in the US or in a foreign country, for at least two years before the petition for a religious green card is filed:
    • As a minister for the respective religious denomination
    • In a religious job.
      • The employment can be in a religious vocation – either in a professional capacity or in a non-professional capacity.
      • The employment can be in a religious occupation- either in a professional capacity or in a non-professional capacity.
  • Worker qualifications. The religious organization/beneficiary must provide evidence to show the religious worker/ beneficiary has the qualifications necessary to “perform the duties of the offered position.”

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