The R-1 religious worker visa is for ministers, those in a traditional religious occupation, and those with a religious vocation. The R-1 visa allows for a maximum 5 year stay for the R-1 worker and dependent spouse and children (R-2 visa holders).
R-1 Visa Requirements
1. The R-1 sponsoring organization is bona fide religious organization with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, or one that would qualify for 501(c)(3) status if it applied.
2. The R-1 visa applicant must have belonged to the religious denomination of the organization for at least two years.
R-1 Visa Filing Process
R-1 religious worker status can be obtained both abroad and in the United States. In each case, it is a one-step process.
R-1 Change of Status in the United States. You can apply for a change of status to R-1 nonimmigrant religious worker if you are currently in the United States in another valid nonimmigrant status.
The petition for change of status is filed by the sponsoring religious organization and includes:
1. Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
2. Filing fee of $190
3. Letter of support from the religious organization
4. Proof of 501(c)(3) non-profit status
5. Proof that the R-1 worker’s religious denomination is the same as the sponsoring organization’s
6. Proof that the R-1 worker has belonged to the denomination for the previous two years
7. Proof that the R-1 visa applicant qualifies for the religious position
8. Proof that the sponsoring organization can support the R-1 religious worker
Depending on your location in the United States, the I-129 petition may take 1-4 months to process.
If you change your status to R-1 in the United States, you will need to apply for an R-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate next time you travel.
The maximum initial stay for an R-1 nonimmigrant religious worker is 3 years, which may be extended to a total of 5 by filing a new I-129 petition.
R-1 Visa at a United States Consulate. If you are outside the United States or are in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, you can apply for the R-1 religious worker visa at a U.S. Consulate. This may be done at a third country such as Mexico or Canada.
You apply directly for the visa at the Consulate; no petition needs to be filed in the United States beforehand.
The R-1 visa application includes:
1. Form DS-156, Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa
2. Form DS-157 (if male between the ages of 16 and 45)
3. Filing Fee of $100 + reciprocity fee, if any
5. One passport-style photo
6. Letter of support from the religious organization
7 Proof of 501(c)(3) non-profit status
8. Proof that the R-1 worker’s religious denomination is the same as the sponsoring organization’s
9. Proof that the R-1 worker has belonged to the denomination for the previous two years
10. Proof that the R-1 visa applicant qualifies for the religious position
11. Proof that the sponsoring organization can support the R-1 religious worker
Depending on the schedule of the Consulate, it may take a few weeks to obtain the R-1 religious worker visa.