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R: RELIGIOUS WORKERS

The R-1 classification applies to a religious worker. This is an alien coming to the U.S. temporarily to work: 

  • As a minister of religion, 

  • As a professional in a religious vocation or occupation, or 

  • For a bona fide nonprofit religious organization at the request of the organization, in a religious occupation which relates to a traditional religious function. 

The applicant (religious worker) must have been a member of a religious denomination having a nonprofit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately prior to the application date. To be eligible, the U.S. petitioning organization must be a nonprofit religious organization granted (or eligible for) tax exempt status, and must demonstrate that it can and will provide for all of the R-1 beneficiary’s financial and physical needs. 

It is very important to establish that R visa applicant’s religious occupation relates to a traditional religious function through a detailed explanation of the duties and requirements for the position and that the position is recognized as a religious occupation in this denomination or organization. 

Steps to Obtain R Visa 

A prospective or existing U.S. employer must file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of a foreign national seeking to enter the United States as a nonimmigrant minister, or a religious worker in a religious vocation or occupation. An R-1 visa cannot be issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad without prior USCIS approval.  

Dependents 

Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of R-1 workers are entitled to R-2 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may be students in the U.S., but may not be employed under the R-2 classification. 

Period of Stay 

USCIS may grant R-1 status for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months. Subsequent extensions may be granted for up to an additional 30 months. The religious worker’s total period of stay in the United States in R-1 classification cannot exceed five years (60 months).