The R-1 visa allows religious workers to temporarily enter the U.S. A religious vocation is defined as a calling to religious life, demonstrated by a lifelong commitment such as taking vows. Nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters are examples of religious workers. This classification includes liturgical workers, religious instructors or cantors, catechists, workers in religious hospitals, missionaries, religious translators, and religious broadcasters. However, this classification does not include janitors, maintenance works, clerks, fundraisers, or solicitors of donations. Immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of a religious worker can also accompany the R-1 applicant to the U.S. under R-2 status. R-2 visa holders are allowed to attend school, but are not authorized to work in the U.S.
R-1 visa holders are allowed to remain in the U.S. for a maximum period of five years.
The R-1 applicant must demonstrate that he or she has belonged to a nonprofit religious organization in the U.S. or outside the U.S. for at least the two years. The U.S. petitioner must be affiliated with the same religious denomination as the foreign religious organization, if the qualifying experience is with a religious organization outside the U.S. The U.S. petitioning organization must be a tax-exempt nonprofit religious organization that has the ability to pay and provide room and board for the religious worker. Religious workers who live outside the U.S. should apply for the R-1 visa with their consulate. Religious workers who are already in the U.S. may seek a change of status, extension of stay or change of employment, by filing a petition with the USCIS.
Please note that the above listed information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice regarding an individual matter. We strongly encourage you to work closely with qualified legal counsel when pursuing any immigration benefits. If we can be of further assistance to you, please contact our office via phone at (408) 567-9445 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org