B visa for Religious Volunteers

Visitors to the United States (B Visa) can enter for many reasons. Citizens of most foreign countries require a visitor visa prior to entry while some foreign nationals are visa-exempt or can participate in the visa waiver program. In any case, prior to entry to the United States as a visitor, you need to be certain that your intended activities fall within the limits of the B visa. We discuss entering the United States as a volunteer for a non-profit or religious organization below.

Can I obtain a B visa for Voluntary Service for a Non-profit or Religious Organization?

Participants in Voluntary Service Programs can qualify for visitor visas. To qualify as a volunteer for a non-profit or religious organization, the following conditions apply:

  • Applicants participating in a voluntary service program benefiting U.S. local communities, who establish that they are members of, and have a commitment to, a specific recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization.  No salary or remuneration should be paid from a U.S. source, other than an allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to the volunteers’ stay in the United States.

What is a “voluntary service program” for a visitor visa?

A “voluntary service program” is an organized project conducted by a recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization to assist the poor or the needy or to further a religious or charitable cause.  The program may not, however, involve the selling of articles and/or the solicitation and acceptance of donations.

Written Statement for voluntary service for a non-profit or religious organization

You must assure that the written statement issued by the sponsoring organization is attached to the passport containing the visa for presentation to the DHS officer at the port of entry.  The written statement will be furnished by the applicant participating in a service program sponsored by the religious or nonprofit charitable organization and must contain DHS-required information such as the:

    • Volunteer’s name and date and place of birth;

    • Volunteer’s foreign permanent residence address;

    • Name and address of initial destination in the United States; and

    • Volunteer’s anticipated duration of the assignment.

What else should I know about B Visas?

Here are some other important things to know if you are considering applying for a B Visa.

  • Your spouse and children are not eligible for a dependent visa. Each of your dependents who will be accompanying or following to join you must apply separately for a B-2 visa and must follow the regulations for that visa.
  • An individual on a B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa is not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States.
  • There is no guarantee you will be issued a B-1 or B-2 visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • A valid US visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

How long can I stay in the US as a Canadian Visitor?

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