Religious Worker Immigrant Visas

Special SD Immigrant Visas for Religious Workers

Unlike the R visa, which is for temporary religious workers, the SD visa allows religious workers to live and work permanently in the United States.

May Law Group offers substantial discounts to religious workers applying for permanent residence.

Who Can Apply for Religious Worker Immigrant Visas?

This visa is available to ministers, priests, religious brothers and sisters, and other members of the clergy. Religious youth workers, religious education instructors, cantors, and other lay members of a denomination who work in a professional capacity for the religious organization may also apply for an SD visa until Sept. 30, 2012.

The spouse and minor children of a religious worker are also able to apply for visas based on their family relationship to the religious worker.

Which Religious Organizations Qualify?

The religious denomination must be a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization with facilities in the U.S. The applicant must have been working continuously for the denomination or an affiliated organization for at least two years before applying for the visa. Work performed in the U.S. or another country will apply toward fulfilling this two-year requirement.

How to Apply

The immigration attorneys of May Law Group can file a Form I-360 petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service on your behalf or on behalf of the prospective employer. The I-360 petition must include the following additional documentation:

  • A letter from the authorized official of the religious organization explaining how the applicant and the services he or she will perform in the U.S. qualify for the visa.
  • A letter from the authorized official of the religious organization attesting to the applicant's membership in the religious organization and describing the specific nature of the applicant's religious work over the past two years, as well as the specific plans for his or her employment in the U.S.
  • Evidence that the denomination or affiliated nonprofit group is a bona fide tax-exempt religious organization.

Site Visits

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) must visit the site of the prospective employer before the I-360 petition will be approved. The purpose of the site visit is to detect possible fraud. Because it can take many months, it is wise to speak to an immigration lawyer as soon as possible.

After the I-360 petition is approved by USCIS, we can help you through the next steps in the process of obtaining an SD special immigrant visa for religious workers.

To learn more about how our lawyers can help you obtain permanent lawful residence status through your religious work, please contact our office in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or New York. We also assist clients with R-1 nonimmigrant visas for religious workers.