The R1 visa is available to foreign members of religious denominations, having bona fide non-profit religious organizations in the U.S., for entering the U.S. to carry on the activities of a minister or religious worker as a profession, occupation or vocation.
Liturgical workers, educators, counselors, cantors, catechists, employees of religious healthcare institutions, missionaries, religious translators, and religious broadcasters are a few examples of people who work in the religious sector. Janitors, maintenance personnel, clerks, fundraisers, and anyone whose primary job it is to collect donations are not included in this category.
R1 Visa Requirements:
Criteria for Determining Employer Eligibility
To be eligible for R1 visa sponsorship, your employer must be a bona fide, tax-exempt, non-profit religious organization as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or a religious organization that has never requested such exemptions but would otherwise be entitled to such status.
- Criteria for determining the suitability of the religious operator
- To qualify for the R1 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be a member of a religious denomination with a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States.
- The religious denomination or affiliate to which you belong is exempt from taxation, or the religious denomination qualifies for tax-exempt status
- You have been a member of the organization for at least two years immediately preceding your admission to the United States.
- You plan to enter the United States solely to serve in the vocation of a minister of that denomination or, at the request of the organization,
- you are entering the United States to perform a profession, occupation, or religious vocation for the denomination or for an organization affiliated with the denominations
- You have resided and been physically present outside the United States in the immediately preceding year if you have already spent five years in the United States under the R1 classification
- You intend to leave the United States at the end of your authorized stay
R1 VISA Process:
You can apply for the R1 Religious Worker Visa at the US Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. Your R1 religious visa application must include:
- Form A.DOS DS-156, Application for Nonimmigrant Visa
- Form B.DOS DS-157, Application for Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa, for all male applicants between the ages of 16 and 45
- C. A copy of your passport valid for at least six months beyond your stay in the United States and with at least one blank page
- D. Two identical color photographs showing the full face without headgear on a light background. You may wear a head covering if required by a religious order of which you are a member
- E.Copies of previous passports held by you
- F. Evidence of the U.S. religious organization’s tax-exempt status or eligibility for tax-exempt status
G.A letter from an authorized official of the specific unit of the employing religious organization certifying that:
- 1. Foreign and U.S. religious organizations belong to the same religious denomination if your religious affiliation has been maintained, in whole or in part, outside of the United States.
- 2.You have been a part of the required religious organization for the requisite two years prior to applying for the R1 visa.
- 3.If you are a minister you are authorized to conduct religious worship for that denomination
- 4. You have at least a high school diploma or equivalent and this qualification is required to access the religious profession, or
- 5.You are qualified to perform a non-professional occupation, if the type of work to be performed is related to a traditional religious function
- 6. The manner of remuneration, including the amount and source of remuneration, other types of compensation such as room and board, and any other benefits to which a monetary value can be attached, and a statement whether such remuneration will be in exchange for services made
- 7.The name and location of the specific organizational unit of the religious or affiliated denomination for which you will provide services
- 8.If you work for an organization affiliated with a religious denomination, the nature of the relationship between the two organizations is described
H. Evidence of the assets and methods of operation of the religious organization
I. Religious organization entity formation documents pursuant to applicable state laws
R1 Visa Fees:
- Filing Fee – Regular$460
- Filing Fee – Premium$1,960
VisaPro Processing Time1 Week
Duration of stay
You can stay in the United States for up to five years. The initial period of stay is 30 months, with the possibility of extending the status for a further 30 months. Once you have been in the United States for five years with R1 status, you can obtain R1 status again after remaining outside the United States for at least one year before reapplying.
1. What is the R-1 Religious Worker Visa?
The R-1 Religious Worker Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals in religious occupations to enter the United States and perform the duties of a religious worker.
2. Who is eligible for the R-1 visa?
You must be a foreign national who, for at least two years immediately preceding the time of application for admission, has been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States.
3. How do I qualify as a religious worker for the R-1 visa?
To qualify for the R-1 visa, you must be one of the following:
- Minister of Religion
- Work in a professional capacity, whether in a religious vocation or in employment
- Other religious worker who carries out a religious occupation or religious vocation
4. What privileges am I entitled to with the R-1 visa?
With the R-1 visa you can:
- Committed to studying full-time in the United States
- Travel freely in and out of the United States
- Receive payment for services performed
- Apply for the Green Card
- Apply for an R-2 dependent visa for your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21
5. What are the limitations of the R-1 visa?
With the R-1 visa you can:
- Receive payment only from the religious organization through which the status was obtained
- Bring your dependents with you to the United States, but they may not work
6. How long can I stay in the United States with the R-1 Religious Worker Visa?
You may stay in the United States on an R-1 religious worker visa with your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 for an initial period of up to 30 months.
7. Can I extend my stay with the R-1 visa?
Yes, you can use Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to request an extension of stay. The extension may be authorized for a maximum period of 30 months. The total duration of stay cannot exceed five years.
8. Can I study on the R-1 Religious Worker Visa?
Yes, you can undertake full-time study with the R-1 visa.
9. Can I change employers with the R-1 Religious Worker Visa?
Yes, you can change employers with the R-1 visa. The new organization seeking to hire you must file a new Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS and have it approved.
10. Are there any travel restrictions for the R-1 Religious Workers Visa?
No, there are no travel restrictions for the R-1 Religious Worker Visa. You can travel freely in and out of the United States while your visa is valid.
11. What documents are required for the R-1 visa?
The documents required for the R-1 visa are:
- Completed Form I-129 Nonimmigrant Visa Application with supporting documents
- Evidence that you are working as a minister, or in a religious vocation or profession, for a bona fide, nonprofit, tax-exempt religious organization or denomination
- Proof that you have been a member of the religious organization for at least two years before applying
- An employment contract in the United States demonstrates, like bank statements, that the employer is able to support the applicant above the poverty line Letters of recommendation to further support your case Evidence provided by the IRS certifying the religious organization’s tax-exempt status in the United States
- Proof that you are qualified for the job listed in the United States
- Documents showing the financial support arrangements.
12. Can I apply for a Green Card while in R-1 status?
Yes, you can apply for the Green Card. To change the status you need to archive:
Applying for Form I-360 Special Immigrant and obtaining approval
Requesting Form I-485 for Adjustment of Status When Priority Date for Form I-360 is Current
13. What type of visa will my dependents require?
You can apply for the R-2 visa for your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.
14. Can my dependents study on the R-2 visa?
Yes, your dependents can pursue full-time education in the United States.
15. Can my dependents work on the R-2 visa?
No, your dependents may not work on the R-2 visa.