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R Visa - Religious Worker

Law Offices of Yu & Associates

What is the R-1 Visa?

The R-1 visa is for religious workers to come to the U.S. temporarily to work as:

  1. A minister of religion,
  2. A professional in a religious vocation or occupation, or
  3. For a bona fide nonprofit religious organization at the request of the organization, in a religious occupation which relates to a traditional religious function.

The applicant (religious worker) must have been a member of a religious denomination having a nonprofit religious organization in the United States for at least the two years immediately prior to the application date. To be eligible, the U.S. petitioning organization must be a nonprofit religious organization granted (or eligible for) tax exempt status, and must demonstrate that it can and will provide for all of the R-1 beneficiaryí»s financial and physical needs.

Can Dependents Accompany R-1 Religious Workers in the U.S.?

Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of R-1 workers are entitled to enter the U.S. in R-2 status to stay with the principal. Dependents may be students in the U.S., but may not be employed under the R-2 visa.

How Do I Apply for an R-1 Visa?

The U.S. employer or organization should apply for the R-1 visa for the religious workers. The following documents will be needed:

  1. A written statement from an authorized official of the religious organization that will be employing the alien establishing:
    • that the alien has been a member of the denomination for the required two years,
    • a description of the proposed position, and that the alien is qualified for the position,
    • the arrangements, if any, for salary, benefits, and other compensation,
    • the name and location of the place the alien will provide the services, and
    • the organizationí»s affiliation with the denomination.
  2. Evidence showing that the religious organization or any affiliate which will engage the aliení»s services is a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the U.S. and is exempt from taxation under 501(c)(3) status.

How Long Can an R-1 Religious Worker Stay in the U.S.?

The R-1 visa holder can stay in the U.S. for an initial period of 3 years and extend their stay for an additional 2 years.


The above is intended as a general introduction and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion for your particular case. Please contact the Law Offices of Yu & Associates with any specific questions. Tel: (301) 838-8986, Email:, Address: 110 N Washington St., Suite 328E, Rockville, MD 20850.

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