R Visa: Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

Overview:
The R-1 classification is designed for foreign nationals coming to the U.S. temporarily to be employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the U.S. to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.

Requirements:
To qualify for the R-1 visa:

  • The applicant must be a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the U.S.;
  • The religious denomination and its affiliate are either exempt from taxation or qualifies for tax-exempt status; and
  • The applicant has been a member of the denomination for two years immediately preceding applying for religious worker status.

Period of Stay:
The R-1 classification may be granted for up to 30 months and may be for up to an additional 30 months.  The total stay in the U.S. in an R-1 status cannot exceed 60 months (5 years).

All the time spent outside the U.S. is subtracted and does not count toward the five-year period. As such, the time out of the U.S. may be recaptured to the five years.

Additionally, if an R-1 holder remains outside the U.S. for one year, s/he may begin the five-year period anew.

Family of R-1 Visa Holders:
The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of an R-1 visa holder are eligible for R-2 classification.  They are not eligible for employment but may engage in study.

Route to the Green Card:
The R-1 status is also considered a path to a green card through the EB-4 preference: Special Immigrant Religious Worker petition. (Click here for more information on EB-4.)

For more information about this visa category contact us today to schedule a professional consultation with an Immigration Attorney. Call (305) 515-VISA (8472) or click here.

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