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R-1 Visa, Religious Workers

Overview: R-1 visa is non-immigrant visa is for foreigners working in United States in a religious capacity on a temporary basis.

R-1 visa holder could work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation for a non-profit religious organization (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States. He or she could be employed part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) or full time.

Family: spouses and unmarried children under 21 of an R-1 visa holder may receive R-2 visas. The spouse and dependent children are not authorized to work in United States.

Periold of Stay: initial period of admission for up to 30 months, could request extension of up to an additional 30 months. The total stay cannot exceed 60 months. The applicant must stay outside the U.S. for the immediate prior year, if he or she has previously stay in United States for 60 months under R-1 status.

Green Card intent: may be eligible for an employment-based, fourth preference visa(EB-4). The foreign nationals are not required to have a residence abroad that they have no intention of abandoning. They must intend to depart the U.S. at the end of their lawful status, absent specific indications or evidence to the contrary.

In fiscal year 2010, USCIS received 5,164 applications for R-1 visa, approved 3,390, denied 1,774, waived or overcome 1,346. USCIS also received 1,842 applications for R-2 visa, approved 1,107, refused 735, waived or overcome 582.

Visa Type:
  • R-1 Visa: Religious Workers
  • R-1 Visa: Spouse or unmarried children under age of 21 of Religious Workers

R-1 Visa Qualification
Religious workers include persons authorized, by a recognized employing entity, to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion, and workers engaging in a religious vocation or occupation. To qualify for R-1 visa,
  1. The foreign national must be a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the U.S;
  2. The religious denomination and its affiliate are either exempt from taxation or qualifies for tax-exempt status
  3. The foreign national has been a member of the denomination for two years immediately preceding the petition. The applicant is planning to work as a minister of that denomination, or in a religious occupation or vocation for a bona fide, non-profit religious organization.

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