What is an R1 Visa?

The R1 category is a religious visa for foreign members of non-profit vocational associations. To be eligible, you must provide evidence of your professional role and your planned activities in the U.S.

This permit is not available to lay preachers. The same applies to other religious workers who have not received an offer of employment from an organization In the U.S.

How can we help

At IAS, we are passionate about supporting others and we are happy to help you with your R-1 Visa application.

Our team of immigration lawyers can follow your religious visa petition from start to end. We will liaise between you and your U.S.-based sponsor. Together with your lawyer, you can create the perfect strategy to support your application. Our advisors will build an adequate portfolio and submit it to the USCIS.

To find out more about our service, you can get in touch with us using our contact form. Otherwise, you can arrange your first consultation by calling us on +1844 290 6312.


What are the R1 requirements?

The R1 Visa is addressed to foreign nationals who wish to enter the U.S. to work as religious workers. To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be employed in a vocational occupation for at least 20 hours per week;
  • Have dedicated your life to religious practices and functions;
  • Have been a member of any religious organization in the U.S. for at least two years before your petition;
  • Have received an offer from a non-profit religious organization in the U.S.

Who is a religious worker?

Religious workers are ministers and other clerical employees, whose duties involve religious functions. These activities are often pertinent to religious denominations. To be eligible, these groups should share a recognized creed and have a formal code of rules and a place of worship.

Supervisory or support roles, such as clerical employees or fund-raisers, are not eligible for an R1 Visa. They may still apply for another non-immigrant work visa.

Can I study while on an R-1 Visa?

Although religious pupils are not qualified for this permit, an R1 Visa holder can pursue training or study incidental to his or her status.

However, you must work for at least 20 hours per week to meet your R1 status requirements and are not allowed to engage in full-time education. The same applies to training unless it is relevant to your vocational role.

If you wish to receive practical training, you should check your H3 Visa eligibility.

How do I get a religious visa for the U.S.?

Your R1 application process starts when your U.S.-based employer files your Form-129. You must include adequate supporting documentation, such as proof of your religious duties.

When petitioning for your R1 Visa, you will be summoned for an interview. The USCIS will examine your purpose for visiting the U.S. and your role within your religious denominations.

It may also need to inspect the principal place where your worshippers use to congregate.

What is the duration of an R1 Visa?

An R-1 visa is initially valid for 3 years, but it can be extended for 2 more years. After 5 years, you must reside outside the U.S. for at least 1 year before applying for a new permit.

To extend your R1 status, you must file a new Form 1-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. However, you may be exempted from this obligation if your employment was seasonal or if you only work in the U.S. on a part-time basis while residing abroad.

If you interrupt your functions before your religious visa expires, you must immediately leave the country.

Can an R1 Visa holder apply for a Green Card?

Like other nonimmigrant visas, the R1 is not a dual intent visa and do not lead to permanent residency.

If you wish to adjust your status, you may apply for an EB-4 visa. This is a permanent work permit open to particular categories, such as vocational occupations.

There is a 5,000 cap on the EB-4 visas released every year. Religious ministers are not subject to this limit, but they need a sponsor to be eligible.

Can dependents accompany a R1 Visa holder?

If you hold a religious visa, your spouse and your unmarried children under the age of 21 can join you in the U.S.

When filing your petition, your employer can apply for an R-2 status for your family members. The length of their permit is tied to yours. However, they will not be allowed to seek employment in the country.

You will be asked to prove your kinship with your relatives, and that you can support them financially.

If your relatives want to visit you only for a short period, they can apply for a tourist visa by submitting their B2 Visa documentation. This permit could be easier to get, but it will grant them less time in the U.S.

What services does IAS offer?

IAS will put you in touch with one of our best immigration lawyers. Your solicitor will review your case and guide you through your application.

Our service includes:

  • Review your supporting portfolio;
  • Check if you need a certified translation for your documentation;
  • Liaise with your U.S.-based employer;
  • Help you sponsor fil your Form I-129 to the highest standard.

Contact us today to speak with one of our lawyers. You can call us on +1844 290 6312.

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