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 religious worker status can be obtained both abroad and in the United States. In each case, it is a one-step process.
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:
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.
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.
Depending on the schedule of the Consulate, it may take a few weeks to obtain the R-1 religious worker visa.
**This is general information and is NOT intended to provide legal advice.
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