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Chicago Religious Visa Lawyers

Are you a religious worker called to fulfill the mission of your faith in the U.S.? 

At Khalaf & Abuzir, our religious visa lawyers have more than three decades of experience helping clergy members, missionaries, and others navigate the U.S. immigration process. 

Our lawyers recognize the significance of your faith-based aspirations, and we will provide personal counsel tailored to suit your specific religious visa requirements. Let us guide you through each step of the religious immigration process, helping you obtain the status needed to pursue your spiritual calling on U.S. soil.

Immigration lawyers Vivian Khalaf and Omar Abuzir
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    Passport of USA next to a Guide for new Immigrants.

    Why Hire Our Religious Visa Lawyers?

    Our religious visa lawyers bring over 30 years of experience and a deep understanding of the legal landscape to the table to ensure your journey to the United States is smooth and successful.

    Are you planning to contribute your knowledge through spiritual instruction or community outreach? Interested in serving within religious institutions in Chicago, such as IFCJ The Fellowship, Faith and Learning International, or the Chicago Rabbinical Council? 

    Our immigration attorneys understand how to navigate the nuances of getting an R-1 or EB-4 visa, and we stay current on the latest regulations and requirements. We will provide tailored advice based on your unique circumstances, maximizing the odds of a successful religious visa application.

    What Are the Types of Religious Visas?

    As a religious worker seeking to immigrate to the U.S., there are two primary visa types – R-1 visas and EB-4 visas. Depending on your circumstances and qualifications, you may qualify for one of these two immigration paths.

    R-1 Visa

    The R-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that grants the right to temporarily live and work in the U.S. It is specifically intended for those engaged in religious occupations and vocations. For example, if you are a minister, missionary, nun, or monk, the R-1 visa may give you the right to contribute your skills and spiritual guidance to the Chicago community. To qualify for this type of visa, you must demonstrate your qualifications to engage in religious duties, as well as your affiliation with a recognized religious organization.

    EB-4 Visa

    As a religious worker, you may also have eligibility for employment-based, fourth preference visas. The EB-4 visa offers permanent resident status to qualifying individuals engaged in religious occupations or vocations. EB-4 visas have strict requirements, including necessitating that you have a job offer from a recognized organization.

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    Immigration lawyer Omar Abuzir
    Omar A. Abuzir
    Immigration Lawyer
    Chicago immigration lawyer Vivian Khalaf
    Vivian Khalaf
    Immigration Lawyer

    Client Testimonials

    5 stars
    “Working with the lawyers at ImmigrationJD was an experience that was unexpected. It was a breeze obtaining my permanent residency and the attorney was with me every step of the way. The process was exactly as it was explained to me at the start and there were no surprises! I highly recommend this law firm”
    ~Juma Amin
    5 stars
    “It was very difficult for me to be separated from my husband while he was overseas waiting for the processing of his immigration papers at the U.S. embassy. My attorney made the process move quicker than I anticipated by being on top of it and making sure the documents were completed properly and efficiently. I was never kept in the dark and updated frequently. We will be back to ImmigrationJD as soon as my husband is ready to file for citizenship”.

    What Is the Application Process for Religious Visas?

    Whether you’re applying for an R-1 or an EB-4 visa, navigating the process of immigrating for religious work requires meticulous preparation and adherence to the procedural guidelines. For both visa types, you will need to show evidence of your spiritual responsibilities. You must also demonstrate your commitment to undertaking and fulfilling these duties in the U.S.

    The steps to get an R-1 or EB-4 visa include:

    Confirming Your Eligibility:

    Before applying for either an R-1 or an EB-4 visa as a religious worker, review the current USCIS qualifications to find out if you are eligible for either visa type.

    Getting a Job Offer:

    To immigrate to the U.S. as a religious worker, you will need a job offer from a qualifying U.S. religious organization who will sponsor your application.

    Submitting the Appropriate Forms:

    The sponsoring religious organization will submit the appropriate forms to petition USCIS on your behalf. 

    Getting Approved:

    USCIS will review your petition, as well as any supporting documentation, to decide whether to approve or deny your request.

    Applying for a Visa:

    If your petition is approved, you can file an application for either an R-1 or an EB-4 visa.

    Following USCIS Instructions:

    Follow any added instructions given by USCIS or the U.S. embassy or consulate relating to the need for additional documentation, interviews, or medical exams.

    Keep in mind, these steps may vary depending on your circumstances, country of origin, updates to immigration regulations, and other factors. 

    FAQs About Religious Visas in the United States

    How Long Can I Stay in the U.S. With a Religious Visa?

    The R-1 visa allows for temporary residency in the U.S., while the EB-4 visa grants permanent residency. Initially, the R-1 visa grants a stay of up to 30 months. The USCIS may grant extensions of up to an additional 30 months, for a maximum allowed stay of up to five years. Providing permanent residency, the EB-4 allows you to stay in the U.S. indefinitely, provided you maintain your status.

    Can I Change From a Religious Visa to Another Visa Category?

    Changing from a religious visa to another visa category is possible under certain circumstances. R-1 and EB-4 visa holders may transition to another non-immigrant status or pursue a different visa category. Doing so will require you to meet the criteria of the new visa category or immigration status. You may have to file a new petition or application, present supporting evidence and documentation, and meet other requirements to adjust your visa status.

    Can Religious Workers Bring Their Families to the U.S.?

    Workers on religious visas have the chance to bring their immediate family members with them to the U.S. If you’re in the U.S. on an R-1 visa, your spouse or unmarried children (under the age of 21-years-old) can apply for an R-2 dependent visa. An R-2 visa allows your immediate family members to stay for as long as you are in the U.S. serving your faith. While your spouse or children can go to school while on an R-2 visa, this type of dependent visa does not let them work.

    As an EB-4 visa holder, you can sponsor your immediate family members for a derivative visa. Your family members will have to apply for immigrant visas based on your status. As a sponsor, you will have to follow the USCIS’s specific regulations and guidelines.