R-1 visas are issued to temporary religious workers with non-immigrant intent. The interested worker must be sponsored by a non-profit religious organization that has been present within the United States for at least two years. The petitioner organization and the immigrant must demonstrate that the worker will participate in full-time (minimum 35 hours) work in the organization per week. The petitioning organization must provide evidence regarding compensation for the position, which may include: budget, evidence of past compensation for a similar position, or verifiable documents of room and board (if it will be provided).
If religious activists support themselves during their time in the U.S., they must demonstrate a financial capacity to do so and this position is part of an international missionary program.
The R-1 visa allows a religious worker to work for a religious organization in the US for up to 30 months; With a possible 30-month extension. A religious worker can stay in R-1 status for 60 months. Should a religious worker seek R-1 status again, after maintaining R-1 status for the first 60 months, they must remain in the U.S. for a full year before receiving R-1 status again. Should stay outside.
Additionally, it is the burden of the petitioning organization to provide proof of its tax-exempt status under the IRS as a religious non-profit [Section 501(c)(3)]. It is the responsibility of the religious worker to demonstrate his membership in a religious organization. Spouses and children under the age of 21 from R-1 religious workers are eligible for R-2 classification but are not authorized to accept employment as R-2 visa holders. There is currently no annual quota or limit for R-1 visas.
How do I qualify for an R-1 Visa?
- The sponsoring Religious Organization must exist &have a bona fide presence within the U.S. for at least two years prior to petition an alien for R1 status;
- The sponsoring Religious Organization is tax-exempt under the IRS as described in section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code;
- The intending religious worker must have been a member of the Religious Organization (including the specific religious denomination or one closely similar in practice and beliefs) for a least two years immediately prior to filing for the R-1 Visa;
- If applying from outside the US, you must be entering the US for the sole purpose of working and carrying out the duties of the Religious Organization in a religious capacity;
- R-1 Religious workers who max out the 5 year stay must remain physically outside of the U.S. for 1 full year before seeking R-1 status again.
- Must be seeking to work in a religious occupation or vocation as defined in 8 CFR § 204.5(m).
- This includes: Ministers, Rabbis, Priests, Clergy members, or other individuals in a role that directly relates to the dissemination or inculcation of the organizations beliefs or creed that is a recognized occupation within the organization.
- Other religious workers can include: Vocational religious workers who have taken vows, ceremonies, etc., attesting to a particular religious lifestyle that is recognized by the organization such as nuns, monks, and religious brothers & sisters.
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