Our family (3 over 18, 4 under 18) is planning to move to Mexico to work long-term as volunteers setting up a church/mission/community work. We are New Zealand citizens.

We will be part supported/sponsored by a church in the USA and we'll need to be able to travel regularly to the USA from Mexico to attend church and other meetings, as well as shopping/R&R etc.

Are we likely to qualify for a US Religious Visa even though we will be living in Mexico. The work has the potential to be conducted on either side of the border initially until we're fully set up.

If not a Religious Visa, then what would be our best option?

We have been told that a tourist visa is probably not the best option if we are receiving any money from the US (in the way of donated support rather than paid income).

I have posted a similar question regarding Mexico Visas here - What Visa do we need for Mexico as New Zealanders?


If you're just attending meetings, you should be able to enter in B1 or B2 status using the Visa Waiver Program. If you want to stay for more than 90 days at a time, you would need to get a B1/B2 visa, which is the normal visitor visa.

Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visitor.html

More detail: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-visitors-business/b-1-temporary-business-visitor

The R visa for religious workers is for those who will be employed in the US. If your work is in Mexico and you're only attending occasional meetings in the US, you'd be considered to be employed in Mexico. If, on the other hand, you'll be spending a good amount of time doing work in the US for which you are receiving a salary, I expect you'd need an R visa.

Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/other/religious.html

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    @Midavalo if you are resident in Mexico, you can still use the VWP. The rule about not resetting the clock by going to a nearby country does not apply to residents of that country. See for example travel.stackexchange.com/questions/5922/… – phoog Mar 24 '16 at 22:10
  • 1
    @Midavalo for this purpose "resident" would include people living there temporarily on some sort of visa, so no matter what your status is, you should be fine. – phoog Mar 24 '16 at 22:12
  • 1
    @Midavalo I would add that to live in Mexico for more than 6 months you must become a temporary resident there, and will have a resident card proving that status if you need to. A US visa doesn't help at all with respect to living in Mexico and isn't required of a citizen of a visa waiver country for visits to the US from your country of residence, so I'm also pretty sure it would serve no purpose to get one if what you are being paid for is your work in Mexico. – Dennis Mar 30 '16 at 21:38
  • 2
    @Midavalo that is generally true if you reside outside of North America, but if you are a resident of Mexico then travel to Mexico terminates your US trips. The 90 day total rule will still apply if you, say, transit the US from Mexico to visit Canada, but your trip is done once you are back in Mexico. I'd avoid the US visa unless absolutely necessary for something since having one that allows long term residence in the US might create expectations concerning whether, or how, you should to file a US tax return which would be better to clearly avoid. – Dennis Apr 1 '16 at 18:06
  • 1
    @Midavalo see travel.stackexchange.com/a/66635/19400 for a brief discussion of the 90-day rule; in your case you'd obviously substitute "Mexico" for "Canada." – phoog Apr 14 '16 at 20:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.