Deployment of priests who are not United States citizens and who are not ordained in or canonically resident in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America is complicated. Significant issues need to be addressed: immigration status, canonical residence and licensing, knowledge of the polity, worship, authority, and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and the search process.
Addressing Immigration Issues
In order for a priest to work in the United States, he or she must have a religious worker’s visa. They must have a position offered before they will receive the visa. R1 visas expire, are site specific and must be renewed. The application and renewal process for permanent residence takes time and is costly. Immigration and Naturalization Service requirements and processes have become more restrictive since September 11, 2001. Contact the United States Department of State, the consulate or embassy for current and specific information about employment and visas.
Addressing Canonical Issues
Clergy should apply for a license to officiate only if they are offered a specific position in the diocese. Clergy requesting application material without a call will be denied until they can present to the bishop’s office the need for the license to officiate. The granting of a license to officiate is a process distinct from granting canonical residence. A license for clergy who no longer reside in the diocese will expire at the end of the year and will not be renewed.
Any priest who comes into the Episcopal Church of the United States of America from another church in the Anglican Communion must fulfill all the requirements of our national canons (Title III, Canon 10), including successful completion of the physical, psychological, and psychiatric evaluations. The cost of the psychological assessment alone is approximately $1,700 and is paid by the member of the clergy. There is no guarantee that an applicant will be given canonical residence. The final decision is made by the bishop of San Diego after reviewing the final reports.
Addressing Search Process Issues
Positions in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego are not filled by placement or appointment. They are filled by a process of discernment whereby candidates apply, interview, and compete with a field of other candidates. In order to participate in that process, candidates are expected to submit a resume and an Office of Transition Ministry portfolio and be available to participate in a series of interviews in the parish. Members of parish search committees expect to visit candidates in their home parishes. Often the cost of interviewing and moving of a priest from overseas is too prohibitive for many of our parishes. No position is filled without the approval of the bishop of San Diego.
We hope this information is useful to you as you consider the possibility of serving in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.