What are the R-1 visa requirements?


The R-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for religious workers who want to enter the United States to work temporarily in a religious capacity. Here are the key requirements for obtaining an R-1 visa:

R-1 Visa Requirements:

  1. Religious Worker Definition:
    • The applicant must be a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States.
    • The applicant must have been a member of this religious denomination for at least two years immediately before applying for the R-1 visa.
  2. Qualifying Occupations:
    • The applicant must be seeking to enter the U.S. to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.
    • This can include roles such as ministers, missionaries, religious instructors, or persons working in religious healthcare facilities.
  3. Job Offer:
    • The applicant must have a job offer from a U.S. nonprofit religious organization. The job must be in a religious vocation or occupation.
    • The U.S. organization must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of the applicant.
  4. Bona Fide Nonprofit Religious Organization:
    • The U.S. employer must be a bona fide nonprofit religious organization. Evidence of the organization’s nonprofit status must be provided, including tax-exempt status under IRS code 501(c)(3).
  5. Intent to Perform Religious Work:
    • The applicant must intend to work at least 20 hours per week in a religious capacity.
  6. Evidence of Membership:
    • The applicant must provide evidence of membership in the religious denomination for the required two-year period. This can include membership records, affidavits from religious leaders, or other relevant documentation.
  7. Compensation:
    • The applicant must receive a salary or non-salaried compensation for their work. Evidence of how the applicant will be supported while in the U.S. must be provided.
  8. Nonimmigrant Intent:
    • The applicant must intend to leave the U.S. upon the expiration of their R-1 visa status, though dual intent is allowed, meaning they can simultaneously pursue permanent residency if eligible.
  9. Duration of Stay:
    • The initial period of stay is up to 30 months, with the possibility of extension for an additional 30 months, for a total maximum stay of five years.

Application Process:

  1. Filing Form I-129:
    • The U.S. employer files Form I-129 with USCIS on behalf of the applicant. This petition must include all supporting documentation regarding the religious organization, the applicant’s qualifications, and the job offer.
  2. Consular Processing:
    • If the petition is approved, the applicant will apply for the R-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy. An interview may be required, and additional documentation may be requested.
  3. Arrival in the U.S.:
    • Upon approval and issuance of the visa, the applicant can travel to the U.S. and begin their religious work as outlined in the petition.

For a more detailed explanation and guidance on the R-1 visa requirements, visit this comprehensive guide: R-1 Visa Requirements.

Understanding these requirements and ensuring thorough preparation of the application can significantly improve the chances of a successful R-1 visa petition. Professional legal assistance is often beneficial in navigating this process.