An R-1 visa allows a foreign national to be temporarily employed in the United States on a full-time or part-time (at least 20 hours a week) basis, in a religious occupation. Examples of religious occupations eligible for R-1 visas include (but are not limited to): ministers, missionaries, religious broadcasters, workers in religious hospitals, religious instructors and religious counselors.
An R-1 visa holder may be granted an initial period of admission of 30 months. R-1 visa holders may be granted an additional status extension of up to 30 months. At the end of five years (60 months), an R-1 visa holder must leave the country for at least a year before applying for a new R-1 visa.Eligibility
To qualify for an R-1 visa, an applicant must:
- Be a member of a religious denomination which is either: (1) a non-profit religious organization in the United States; (2) a religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption; or (3) a religious organization affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States;
- Have been a member of the religious denomination for at least two years immediately prior to the filing of the R-1 petition; and
- Be entering the United States to work at least 20 hours per week in a religious occupation for the religious denomination or an affiliated organization.
A job qualifies as a religious occupation if:
- The job duties primarily relate to a traditional religious function;
- The occupation is recognized as a religious occupation within the religious denomination; and
- The job duties relate to, involve, and carry out beliefs and customs of the religious denomination.
A job may include limited administrative duties that are incidental to religious functions. However, a job that is primarily administrative in nature, such as a secretary, does not qualify as a religious occupation. Similarly, a job that is a support position, such as a janitor, does not qualify as a religious occupation.What Constitutes a Religious Denomination?
A religious denomination is defined as “a religious group or community of believers governed or administered under a common type of ecclesiastical government”. 8 C.F.R. 214.2(r)(3). A group may demonstrate that they qualify as a religious denomination if they can show one or more of the following:
- A common creed or statement of faith;
- A common form of worship;
- A common formal code of doctrine and discipline;
- Common established places of worship or congregations; or
- Comparable indicia of a bona fide religious denomination.
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of R-1 visa holders are eligible to enter the United States on R-2 visas. R-2 visa holders are not eligible to work while in the United States.Contact an Experienced Immigration Lawyer Today
If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing an R-1 visa, Hartzman Law Firm is here to help. If you would like to learn more about how Hartzman Law Firm can help you file for an R-1 visa, please call us at (412) 495-9849 or fill out a contact form online. We offer free consultations in person, by phone, and by secure video conferencing. Weekend consultations are also available by request.
Call us! We are here to help you!