R1 Visa: Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

What is an R1 Visa?

An R1 visa is a non-immigrant visa category provided to religious workers for temporary work in the United States. An R1 visa holder must be engaged in a religious occupation—such as a minister of religion, taken part in a religious vocation, or work in a professional capacity in a religious occupation or vocation—for a religious organization in the U.S. This visa is most commonly used by non-U.S. citizens who are employed as ministers, priests, nuns, religious brothers, and other religious denominations and organizations. The R1 visa holder may stay in the United States for up to five years initially and can be extended indefinitely over time. The R1 visa holder must apply for permanent residence status upon the expiration of their visa in order to remain in the United States.

Who Qualifies for R1 Visa?

In order to qualify for an R1 visa, the applicant must first demonstrate they are a “bona fide” religious worker. This means they must have a formal, salaried position with a religious organization in the United States that is supported by the same religious organization overseas. The applicant must also be engaged in a “legitimate religious occupation” commonly associated with that particular religion. Furthermore, the applicant must have been a member of the religious denomination for at least two years. Finally, if the position is only part-time, the applicant must prove they are employed as a religious worker with a minimum of twenty hours per week.

How to Apply for R1 Visa?

The R1 visa is a religious worker visa that allows foreign nationals to enter the United States for the purpose of engaging in religious work on a temporary or permanent basis. To be eligible for an R1 visa, a foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination that has a non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two (2) years prior to filing the visa application.

Here are the steps to take when applying for an R1 Visa:

1. Gather required documents: Before applying for the R1 Visa, you must gather all required documents. This may include proof of your current and past membership in a religious denomination, proof of your employment history in a religious capacity, evidence of financial support or sponsorship, and any other relevant documents.

2. Submit Form I-129: The first step to apply for an R1 Visa is to submit Form I-129, which is the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. This form requires information about you, the sponsoring religious organization, and the specific job duties you will be performing in the United States.

3. Pay fees: A filing fee and biometric service fees must be paid when submitting Form I-129. The filing fee is currently $460. The biometric service fee is currently $85.

4. Schedule Interview: After filing Form I-129, you will be required to attend an interview with a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country. You may need to submit additional documents at this time, so it’s important to have all materials ready before attending your interview.

5. Receive Decision: After your interview, the consular officer will make a decision on whether or not to grant you an R1 Visa. If approved, you will receive your visa in the mail within 7-14 days.

If you follow these steps and provide all required documentation, your R1 Visa application should be successful. It is important to remember that preparation is key when applying for an R1 Visa and that you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney if you have any questions about the process.

What is the R1 Visa Interview Process?

The R1 visa interview process is an immigration process that is typically handled by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The process consists of three steps: the initial application, the interview, and the decision.

The initial application will require the applicant to fill out the necessary forms and provide documents to prove their eligibility for the visa. The documents will include evidence of religious work, such as a letter from a religious organization or a copy of an ordination certificate. The applicant must also provide evidence of their financial ability to support themselves in the United States, such as a bank statement or an employment contract.

At the interview, an immigration officer will ask questions about the applicant’s background and their intended activities in the United States. It is important to be prepared and provide detailed answers to any questions asked during the interview. The officer may also ask the applicant to provide additional documentation or additional information.

Once the interview is complete, the officer will make a decision on whether or not to grant the visa. If approved, the applicant will receive instructions on how to obtain their visa. If denied, they will be provided with a reason for the denial and instructions on how to appeal the decision if they choose to do so.

What are the Required Documents for R1 Visa?

The following documents are required for an R-1 visa application:

1. A Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) and its supporting documentation, including evidence of the religious organization’s tax-exempt status, the organization’s bona fide, non-profit religious character, and a description of the duties of the position which must be related to the organization’s religious activities.

2. A completed Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.

3. A valid passport with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the US.

4. A passport-style photograph taken within the last six months.

5. Proof of relationship to a qualifying religious denomination, such as a letter showing ordination or membership, which must be obtained from your religious organization.

6. Proof that you have been a member of your religious denomination for at least two years, such as an affidavit from your religious organization or evidence of past services in the denomination such as ordination certificates or letters from your religious organization.

7. Documentation showing that you plan to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation for a legitimate non-profit religious organization in the US, and that you are qualified to work in such a position.

8. Evidence of financial support for your stay in the US, including signed statements from sponsors and/or copies of bank statements or other financial documents.

9. A copy of your resume or curriculum vitae (CV).

10. Evidence that you will be able to leave the US upon completion of the authorized period of stay, such as property documents, employment records, or other documents that demonstrate strong ties to your home country.

What is the R1 Visa Fee?

The R1 visa fee is $460. This fee is required for all applicants in order to apply for the R1 visa. It is important to note that this fee is non-refundable and must be paid prior to submitting the application. The fee can be paid by check or money order made payable to the US Department of State.

What is the R1 Visa Processing Time?

The R1 visa processing time varies depending on several factors, including the type of visa you are applying for, the number of applications submitted to USCIS, and the workload of the USCIS office where your application is being processed. Typically, the processing times for R1 visas range from 6 to 12 months. It is important to note, however, that wait times can be longer due to a variety of factors, including backlogs or changes in USCIS priorities. Additionally, there are certain qualifications that must be met in order to be eligible for an R1 visa, and these can further extend the processing time.

R1 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an R1 visa?

A: An R1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to temporarily enter the United States to work in a religious capacity. In order to obtain an R1 visa, a foreign national must first have a job offer from a religious organization in the United States. That organization must then sponsor the foreign national through the filing of a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the petition is approved, the foreign national can apply for an R1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or consulate.

Q: What types of religious activities are allowed on an R1 visa?

A: The types of religious activities that can be conducted on an R1 visa are those activities affiliated with a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States. This includes working as a minister, missionary, or other type of religious professional. It also includes working in support roles such as daycare workers, janitors, music directors, and other support staff.

Q: How long can I stay in the U.S. on an R1 visa?

A: An R1 visa holder can stay in the U.S. for up to five years at a time with unlimited extensions up to 25 years.

Q: Can I bring my family with me to the U.S. on an R1 visa?

A: Yes, your spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) can accompany you to the U.S. on an R2 dependent visa. The R2 visa holders are not allowed to work in the U.S., but can attend school or college in the U.S.

Q: What documents do I need to apply for an R1 visa?

A: In order to apply for an R1 visa, you will need to submit the following documents: a valid passport, nonimmigrant visa application form, application fee, supporting documents from your religious organization, and proof of financial support (such as bank statements or income tax returns). You may also need to submit additional documents such as evidence of your professional qualifications or a letter from your pastor or spiritual leader confirming your religious affiliation and activities.