Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee admission to the United States. An R visa simply allows you to travel to the United States and apply for admission as a temporary religious worker. An immigration inspector from by U.S Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security, not the consular officer who issued you the visa, makes the decision as to whether or not to admit you to the United States and decides how long you may stay. If the immigration inspector decides to admit you, normally you will be admitted for a specific period of time. Please see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Temporary Workers page for more information concerning admission periods.
Note that an R visa is not a substitute for an immigrant visa. Persons wishing to remain permanently in the United States must apply for the appropriate immigrant visa abroad or apply for an adjustment of status in the United States.
The consular officer decides how long your visa will be valid (up to five years for an R visa for a Colombian) and how many entries will be printed on the visa (normally the visa will be a “multiple-entry” visa). If you receive, for example, a multiple-entry, three-year visa, it means that you may apply for admission to the United States as many times as you wish over the next three years. If you receive a one-entry, three-month visa, it means that you may apply for admission to the United States one time over the next three months.
The validity of your visa and the number of entries are completely separate from how long you are allowed to stay in the United States. As explained in the answer to “How long am I allowed to stay in the United States with my R visa?”, an immigration inspector from U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security makes the decision as to whether or not to admit you to the United States and decides how long you may stay.
No. Your U.S. visa is still valid. Simply travel with both passports. When you apply for admission at a U.S. port of entry, an immigration inspector from U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security will inspect the visa in your old passport and, if he or she decides to admit you to the United States, will place an admission stamp in your new passport with the annotation "VIOPP" (Visa In Other Passport). DO NOT attempt to remove your visa from your old passport and glue it into your new passport. If you do that, your visa will be automatically invalid.
In order to help us conserve our human resources, we ask that you NOT apply for a new visa until your old one is about to expire. At that time the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit will place a new visa in your valid passport (assuming, of course, that you qualify for the new visa).
Derivatives must apply for a visa, following the same instructions as the principal applicant. When a derivative applies for an R-2 visa to follow-to-join a principal R nonimmigrant already in the United States, the consular officer also must be satisfied that the principal applicant is maintaining R status before issuing the visa. Therefore, in addition to the normal R documents, such applicants must present:
A photocopy of the principal applicant’s issued R visa and U.S. entry stamp or, if the applicant changed status to R status, a photocopy of Form I-797 (Notice of Action) approving the change of status.
Certified copies of the birth/marriage certificates showing the relationship between the principal alien and the R-2 applicant
The spouse and any child age 14 years of age and older must be present at the interview.
U.S. consular officers are only allowed to issue nonimmigrant visas to those applicants who qualify under the law. A visa can be refused for a variety of reasons. For example, your visa application could be denied if you have a criminal record, if you lie during your visa interview, or if you have lived in the United States illegally. There are many other possible reasons that a visa application can be refused. Please see 9 FAM 40.6 Exhibit (PDF 0 KB) I for an abridged list of ineligibilities (that is, reasons your visa may be refused). A consular officer normally will inform the applicant in writing of the basis of the refusal.
The majority of nonimmigrant visa refusals are made under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This provision of the law, which applies to all R applicants (as well as to applicants for most other nonimmigrant visa classifications), presumes that an applicant is an intending immigrant (generally, that he or she plans to stay permanently in the United States or plans to work illegally) and places the burden on the applicant to convince the consular officer of the contrary. If the applicant fails to convince the consular officer, the law requires the consular officer to deny the visa.
R visa applicants must demonstrate that they are qualified to perform the religious work contemplated by their sponsoring organization, that the work is allowed under that visa classification, and that the sponsoring organization qualifies under the law as a bona fide religious organization. Most R visa refusals made under Section 214(b) are made because the applicant or the sponsoring organization have failed to provide sufficient information to demonstrate that the applicant is qualified, or because the proposed work to be performed does not qualify as a religious occupation or activity under the law.
A visa denial under Section 214(b) is not permanent. Visa seekers may reapply for a visa at any time by following the instructions in the How to Apply for a Visa page. However, we recommend that they do so only if they believe that they will be able to show that they are eligible for the visa based on the guidance provided above. That is, we recommend against reapplying unless the applicant's family, professional or economic situation has changed sufficiently to warrant a change in the consular officer's decision.
Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality act is also a common basis for visa refusals. A refusal under Section 221(g) means that the applicant failed to submit some information or a document, or that some further review by the U.S. Department of State is required. When an applicant is refused under Section 221(g), the consular officer gives him or her a letter that explains what, if anything, the applicant needs to do.
If the letter asks the applicant to return to the Embassy with a particular piece of missing information (for example, birth certificate or job letter), the applicant must contact the Visa Information Center to schedule an appointment to return to the Embassy. If the letter informs the applicant that the Embassy will contact him or her when "administrative processing" is complete, this means there is no action required of the applicant.
If you have ever been arrested for any reason, at any time and in any country, you must tell the consular officer during your nonimmigrant visa interview. Question 38 of Form DS-156 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) asks you whether you have ever been arrested. You must answer this and all other questions truthfully, and you must explain the details of your arrest.
Bring to your visa interview all documentation concerning any and all arrests, even if the charges were dropped or you were acquitted, pardoned or given amnesty. In addition, you must provide a copy of the statute under which you were arrested and a translation of the statute into English. The consular officer will review the evidence and make a decision as to whether or not you are eligible for a visa.
A waiver is a special authorization granted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security to put aside certain ineligibilities temporarily and allow a visa to be issued. Some frequently seen grounds of refusals at the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit that require waivers are Sections 212(a)(6)(C)(i) (misrepresentation) and 212(a)(9)(B) (unlawful presence) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The consular officer will inform you if you are potentially eligible for a waiver, and you will then let the consular officer know whether you are interested in pursuing a waiver. If so, the consular officer and/or the U.S. Department of State in Washington will recommend for or against the waiver, using the criteria in 9 FAM 40.301. CBP, which retains sole authority to approve or deny waivers, will make a decision concerning your case. If CBP grants the waiver, the consular officer will inform you promptly. Please remember that the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit cannot control how long a waiver decision may take. A CPB office in the United States makes the decision. There is no entitlement to a waiver; waivers are always discretionary.