150 S. Washington Street, Suite 202
Falls Church, VA 22046
Phone   (703) 534-5588
Fax   (703) 534-5585

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 your 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.

The cases where the USCIS initiates an inspection at the organization prior to adjudicating the R petition have been increasing.


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.

Petition Document Requirements

The petition may be filed by an authorized official of the U.S. organization and must be filed with evidence:

  • showing that the religious organization or any affiliate which will engage the alien's services is a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the U.S. and is exempt from taxation in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
  • that the alien will be working as a minister of religion, or in a religious vocation or occupation and that the proffered position is recognized as a religious occupation related to a traditional function in this religious denomination or organization;
  • that the alien has been a member of the denomination for the required two years and is qualified for the work;
  • that the arrangements, if any, for salary, benefits, and other compensation are being provided by the employer or contract from the employer in the U.S and proof, such as bank statements, that the employer is able to support the applicant above the poverty line; or
  • Recommendation letters to further support your case.

Green Card

You may apply for a Green Card by filing special immigrant petition upon the approval of which you will file for adjustment of status.