The R1 Visa
The R1 visa is available to noncitizens coming to the United States temporarily to work at least part time (an average of at least 20 hours per week) as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation and be employed by a religious organization.
To qualify for an R1 visa, an applicant must be planning on working at:
- A non-profit religious organization in the United States,
- A religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption,
- Non-profit organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.
- The petitioner must include evidence of eligibility for the classification sought.
To qualify, you must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before filing the petition.
How to Apply for an R1 Visa
If you meet the requirements for an R1 visa, here are the steps you need to complete for approval:
- Fill out a Form G-28. This form entitles your attorney or accredited representative to act on your behalf,
- Your employer must fill out a Form I-129,
- Documentation that you are eligible to apply for a visa,
- Information about the religious organization the petitioner plans on working with.
If you are outside the United States, you should apply for your R1 visa at a consulate or embassy. It is recommended to work with a qualified immigration attorney to ensure your documents are filed correctly and expeditiously.
An R1 visa comes with certain benefits, including:
- You can work legally in the United States,
- You can freely travel in the United States,
- Your immediate family (spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age) can also qualify for an R2 visa. While in the United States, your children can go to school and your spouse can apply for an EAD, employment authorization document, giving them permission to work legally in the United States.