R1 - RELIGIOUS WORKER VISA
What is an R1 Visa?
R-1 visas are non-immigrant, temporary work visas for foreign
nationals coming to the United States to be employed as religious workers.
Ministers, priests, educators, translators, missionaries, and other religious
workers may qualify for this type of visa.
· Membership of a legitimate religious denomination with a bona fide
non-profit religious organization in the U.S. for at least two years
· A job offer to work in the U.S. for an affiliate of that same religious
organization for at least 20 hours per week
· Becoming solely as a clergy member or performing a religious occupation
To be permitted to file R-1 visa petitions, the organization must fall
into one of the following three categories:
1. A non-profit religious organization in the U.S.
2. A religious organization authorized as a group tax exemption holder
3. A non-profit religious organization affiliated with a religious
denomination in the U.S.
I meet the requirements; how do I start the process?
There are three steps in the R-1 visa application process: filing the
petition, applying for a non-immigrant visa, and interviewing with
the U.S. embassy or consulate.
1. Filing the Petition
The petition (Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) can be
filed by the employer or organization. The cost to file this petition is
$460, which must be paid by the employer, and requires proof
of tax exemption.
USCIS will generally pay another visit to the employer after receiving
the petition to confirm their relationship with the religious
denomination. After the employer gets approval on
Form I-797: Notice of Action, the nonresident alien may begin the
2. Applying for a non-immigrant visa
All nonimmigrant visa applicants between 14 and 79 years old must
attend a visa interview with an official at the US Embassy.
To complete this requirement, you must schedule the
interview. When you complete your scheduling, you will get a
visa interview confirmation letter, which you need to bring with
you to your interview.
3. Attend the Interview with the US Embassy or Consulate.
Have the necessary papers with you and arrive on time for your
appointment. The immigration officer will ask you questions about your
history, your intentions, and your reason for visiting the United States.
To demonstrate that you will have employment and remuneration in
the US, offer as much information as possible.
How long does the process take?
After the employer submits the petition, USCIS will respond within
6 months. However, if USCIS has to visit the organization's premises,
this could take longer. If USCIS has visited and approved the
organization before, premium processing is available for an extra
$1,225 fee. With premium processing in place, you will receive a
response on your visa within 2 weeks.
For how long is my R-1 Visa Valid?
R-1 visas are granted for a maximum duration of 30 months,
but they can be extended for up to 60 months total. Once you
have hit the maximum amount of time allotted to stay in the
United States, you can choose whether to go back home or try
to get permanent residence.
Are there any benefits with an R-1 Visa?
· The R1 visa holder may bring their spouse and children to the
United States under R-2 status, however, they are not allowed
to work while in the country. The only reason for them coming
to the United States should be to accompany the R1 holder.
· There is no degree requirement for those pursuing religious
occupations. Their job must simply include traditional religious functions.
· The R1 Visa is a dual intent visa that allows applicants to pursue
green card status if they so choose.
If you want to work in the religious sector in the United States, an R1 Visa might be quite useful. Because submitting papers and waiting to be accepted is not a simple procedure, it's vital to understand what happens, let an Immigration attorney take care of that for you.