R-1 Visa Lawyers for Religious Workers

An R-1 visa for religious workers is a temporary visa offered to foreign religious occupants looking to be employed in the United States. The R-1 Visa qualifies ministers, priests, rabbis, ordained deacons, salaried Buddhist monks, commissioned officers of the Salvation Army, and practitioners and nurses of the Christian Science Church. The R-1 visa program was designed to allow religious workers to come to the United States to work for their respective religious organizations, which can be churches, temples, mosques, or any other religious organizations. Over the past decade, VisaNation attorneys secured numerous R-1 visas. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about your options.

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What is R Visa in the U.S.?

An R-1 is a foreign national must be employed as a minister or in another religious occupation at least 20 hours per week by:

  • A non-profit religious organization in the United States.
  • A religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption.
  • A non-profit religious organization that is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.

R Visa Occupations

The following are USCIS-deemed R visa occupations:

  • Liturgical Worker
  • Religious Instructor
  • Religious Counselor
  • Cantor
  • Catechist
  • Religious Hospital Worker
  • Religious Health Care Facilitator
  • Missionary
  • Religious Translator
  • Religious Broadcaster

Our Experience with R-1 Visas

The lawyers at VisaNation have extensive experience helping our clients get R-1 visas. We pride ourselves on outstanding service and exceptional client care. This is what our leading business immigration lawyer Shilpa Malik said about our R-1 visa services:

“As an immigration team, our goal is to assist clients in navigating the complex process of obtaining R-1 visas. We believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to pursue their religious calling, and are dedicated to providing personalized guidance and expertise to ensure their success. Together, we strive to overcome any challenges and pave the way for a smooth and seamless journey towards their religious mission in the United States.”

Who Doesn’t Qualify for an R Visa?

While the R1 visa is designed for religious workers to work temporarily in the United States, there are certain individuals who do not qualify for an R visa. For example, individuals who wish to come to the United States to work in secular occupations, such as administrative or support staff for a religious organization, do not qualify for the R1 visa. Additionally, individuals who wish to come to the United States to work for a non-religious organization or in a non-religious occupation also do not qualify for the R visa. Individuals who have been previously deported or barred from the United States for any reason may not be eligible for the R1 visa. It is important to carefully review the eligibility requirements alongside a qualified immigration attorney before applying for an R1 visa to ensure that you meet all the criteria.

Duration of Stay on R-1 Visa for Religious Workers

The R-1 Visa recipient has the opportunity to stay in the United States for up to 30 months. When the initial 30 months are complete, there is an option to extend the program for an additional 30 months by submitting an R-1 Visa Extension. However, the total amount of time spent in the United States cannot exceed 5 years. An R-1 Visa employer must apply for the visa in advance due to the high volume of applicants and the required site visit. However, after an R-1 Visa employer has received permission, obtaining an additional R-1 Visa will result in a faster process. R-1 Visa holders have the clearance to travel around the United States and outside the country. The length for traveling can continue until the R-1 Visa status has expired.

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Relatives of R-1 Visa Holders

The spouse and/or unmarried children (under 21) of an R-1 religious worker may meet the R-1 visa for religious workers requirements to receive an R-2 classification.

R-1 Visa for Religious Workers Requirements

  • The religious worker needs to have been affiliated with the United States’ non-profit denomination for at least two years.
  • The religious worker must be able to provide evidence of recognition from the religious organization. This requirement can be met by a license, certificate, or official qualification documentation.
  • The U.S. employer must file a Petition for nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129).
  • Workers who are exempt from the visa must display the original Form I-797 at a port of entry.
  • Workers can work for multiple employers, however, each employer must be qualified and submit a petition. The worker must also fill out additional USCIS documentation for each employment.

The entire R-1 process can be complicated and lengthy. There are numerous documents and forms that are necessary for a successful application. At VisaNation, our attorneys prepare and submit R-1 applications to the highest standard. Schedule a consultation today!

R-1 Visa for Religious Workers Petition Requirements

As listed by the USCIS, if the petitioner is claiming tax exemption as a bona fide non-profit religious organization that:

  • Has its own individual Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 501(c)(3) letter then you’ll need to submit a currently valid determination letter from the IRS showing that the organization is tax-exempt.
  • Is recognized as tax-exempt under a group tax exemption then you’ll need to submit a currently valid determination letter from the IRS establishing that the group is tax-exempt. You’ll also need to submit group ruling that the group is tax-exempt.
  • Is affiliated with the religious denomination and was granted tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3), or subsequent amendment or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the Internal Revenue Code, as something other than a religious organization. You’ll then need to submit the following:

(a) A currently valid determination letter from the IRS establishing that the organization is tax-exempt.

(b) documentation establishing the religious nature and purpose of the organization.

(c) organizational literature describing the religious purpose and nature of the activities of the organization.

(d) A religious denomination certification stating that the petitioning organization is affiliated with the religious denomination.

Alternatives to R-1 Visa

If you do not meet the qualifications for an R-1 Visa, here are some other options:

  • EB-1 Visa: This visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, as well as outstanding professors or researchers, and multinational executives or managers.
  • EB-2 Visa: This visa is for individuals with an advanced degree (beyond a U.S. bachelor’s degree) or who have significant competence in art, business, or science. Must also be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Foreign Labor Certification Process.
  • EB-3 Visa: This visa is for skilled, professional, or “unskilled” workers. The EB-3 Green Card has less strict qualifying requirements, but there are more eligible applicants compared to EB-1 and EB-2 categories.
  • H-1B Visa: This visa is for skilled professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as fields such as computer science, architecture, medicine, dentistry, engineering, accounting, etc. There are many benefits to having this type of visa including the fact that it’s dual intent, has a 3-year initial stay which can be extended, permits you to bring spouse/children and more.
  • L-1 Visa: This visa allows multinational companies to transfer executives, managers, and specialized knowledge employees to their US offices. This visa has two subcategories- the L-1A for managers and executives, and the L-1B for employees with specialized knowledge.
  • TN Visa: This visa is for Canadian and Mexican citizens who are seeking temporary employment in the US under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you able to work for a different employer after arriving in the U.S. under R-1? 

You can work for a different employer but they must petition you for the new visa. If, however, the new employer is not a religious organization you would need to seek an alternate type of work visa.

Is there a method to become a permanent U.S. resident after finishing work on an R-1?

You may be able to become a permanent resident by fulfilling the requirements of the EB-4 ‘Special Immigrant Religious Workers’ category.

How can I receive an R-1 visa?

After first filing Form I-129, the petitioning religious group must wait for approval. Until that approval is granted, the worker will not receive their visa at the consulate office.

How VisaNation Law Group’s Immigration Lawyers Can Help:

  • The R-1 Visa requires cohesive and extensive information from both the U.S. employer and you. VisaNation Law Group’s R-1 Visa lawyers are capable of advising and helping you with the required documentation.
  • Along with steps needed for the R-1 Visa, the attorneys are knowledgeable in the process needed to obtain an R-2 for your spouse and children (unmarried and under 21).
  • VisaNation Law Group immigration attorneys organize and plan tactical strategies to meet crucial deadlines and submit clear and concise data.