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R-1 Visas

R-1 Visas

R-1 Visas: Religious Workers

The Religious Worker (R) visa is for persons seeking to enter the United States (U.S.) to work in a religious capacity on a temporary basis. An R-1 is a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part-time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work in a religious vocation or occupation. If you are interested in learning more about how a R-1 visa could work for you, contact us or schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney.

Qualifying as a Religious Worker

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. The R-1 applicant must have been a member of a qualifying religious organization for at least two years immediately preceding the application.

Because the R-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, the applicant must intend to depart the U.S. when the stay in R-1 status expires. 

Application Process

First, a petition for a nonimmigrant worker must be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Both the petitioning organization and the religious worker beneficiary must satisfy particular requirements and submit documentation. Second, if the petition is approved, the applicant then applies for an R-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad.

Period of Stay

R-1 status may be granted for an initial period of admission of up to 30 months. An extension of R-1 status may be granted for up to an additional 30 months. The total stay in the United States in R-1 status cannot exceed 60 months (5 years).

Family of R-1 Visa Holders

A nonimmigrant religious worker's spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may be issued an R-2 visa. The dependents of an R-1 worker may study, but may not accept employment while in the United States in R-2 status.

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