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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.

Basic requirements:

· 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

application procedure.

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.

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