US Immigration Lawyer

Gloria J. D'Souza, Esq.

R-1 Non-Immigrant Religious Worker Visa

Foreign nationals who are in religious vocations and occupations, such as Ministers and Non-Ministers, may come to the U.S. temporarily for the purpose of performing religious work. The R-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa category for foreign nationals temporarily coming to the United States to work as religious workers.

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Who qualifies for the R-1 Visa category?

To qualify for an R-1 visa, the applicant must be coming to the United States to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.

The applicant must be affiliated with a non-profit religious organization in the United States, such as a church, mosque, temple, or religious mission.

The religious organization must have a bona fide non-profit religious organization tax-exempt status in the United States.

Family of R-1 Visa holder

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of R-1 visa holders may be eligible for R-2 visas, allowing them to accompany the religious worker to the United States. However, R-2 visa holders are not authorized to work in the United States.

Initially, R-1 visas are typically granted for an initial period of up to 30 months. Extensions of stay may be granted in increments of up to 30 months, with a maximum total stay of 5 years in the United States.

Ministers and members of religious denominations seeking temporary admission to the United States for brief periods may be eligible to be admitted as B-1 business visitors if their activities are allowed under the B-1 nonimmigrant visitor category.

Yes, there is a pathway for Ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations to immigrate to or adjust their status in the U.S. for the purpose of performing religious work in a full-time compensated position. However, the minister EB-4 non-minister special immigrant religious worker program will end on Mar. 8, 2024. Special immigrants entering the U.S. solely to carry on the vocation of a minister and their accompanying spouses and children are not affected by the sunset date.

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