An R-2 visa is a U.S. nonimmigrant (temporary) visa that may be issued to the spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years) of R-1 visa holders (religious workers). It allows the spouse and children to accompany or join the R-1 visa holder for the duration of the R-1 visa holder's U.S. stay.
There is no cap on the number of visas issued under the R-2 category each year.
To be eligible for an R-2 visa, you must be the spouse or unmarried child (less than 21 years of age) of an R-1 visa holder (as defined in I.N.A. § 101(a)(15)(R).)
To get an R-1 visa, your spouse or parent will need to be a religious worker who has been a member of a legitimate religious denomination for the last two years, and who plans to come to the United States to carry on the activities of a religious worker for a U.S. affiliate of that organization (with that organization's cooperation).
To apply for an R-2 visa, you'll first need to wait while your spouse or parent's employer begins the process by filing a petition on USCIS Form I-129.
After that is approved by USCIS, you'll need to make an appointment at a U.S. consulate in your home country to apply for the visa. Or, if you're already staying (legally) in the U.S., your employer might be able to submit a change of status application (Form I-539) at the same time as the I-129 visa petition, allowing you to switch to R status without leaving the United States.
Note: Citizens of Canada don't need to apply for this visa at a consulate, but can go straight to the U.S. border with the materials described below.
The employer will no doubt pay the USCIS Form I-129 fee. However, you might have to pay the R-2 visa fees, including a processing fee and "reciprocity" fees, if applicable. Check the Fees for Visa Services page of the State Department website for the latest processing fee.
For reciprocity fees, check the State Department's U.S. Visa: Reciprocity and Civil Documents by Country page to determine whether a reciprocity fee applies and how much you'll need to pay at the time of your visa interview. First choose your country and then "R" for visa classification to see the amounts.
Your application for a R-2 visa must be made on State Department Form DS–160, which you'll fill out online before going to the U.S. consulate. If you make your application at the same time as the primary, R-1 visa holder, then you'll need to bring:
If the application is made separately, besides the above-mentioned R-2 documents, it must be accompanied by:
Here's what you need to be aware of in order to enjoy and maintain your R-2 status in the U.S.:
The initial R-2 visa may be granted for a period of up to 30 months. USCIS may approve extensions of stay for a period of up to 30 months, as well. The total period of stay for a person holding an R-2 visa may not exceed five years.
There is no direct path from an R visa to a green card. In fact, one of the conditions of the R visa is that its holders intend to return home when their stay is over.
If you become otherwise eligible for a green card, talk to an immigration lawyer. It might be possible for you to obtain it, but submitting the application could also put your current R-2 visa status at risk, because it would show that you have a mix of intentions.