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Special Immigrant Religious Workers
Attorney in Phoenix, Arizona

Ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations may immigrate to or adjust status in the U.S. for the purpose of performing religious work in a full-time compensated position.

To qualify as a special immigrant religious worker, you must:

  • Have been a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before filing a petition for this status with USCIS;

  • Seek to enter the United States to work in a full time, compensated position in one of the following occupations:

    • Solely as a minister of that religious denomination;

    • A religious vocation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity; or

    • A religious occupation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity;

  • Be coming to work for either:

    • A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States; or

    • A bona fide organization that is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States; and

  • Have been working in one of the positions described above after the age of 14, either abroad or in the United States, continuously for at least two years immediately before the filing of a petition with USCIS. The prior religious work does not need to correspond precisely to the type of work you will perform. A break in the continuity of the work during the preceding two years will not affect eligibility so long as:

    • You were still employed as a religious worker;

    • The break did not exceed two years; and

    • The nature of the break was for further religious training or sabbatical. However, you must have been a member of the petitioner’s denomination throughout the two years of qualifying employment.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany or follow to join you or adjust status in the United States. Attorney Debora Lelli enjoys helping religious workers as this was the method that she was able to adjust her status and eventually naturalize.