Religious Visa to the US
An R-1 visa is held by a foreign national who is coming to the United States to be temporarily employed in a religious vocation sponsored by a recognized denomination.
R-1 visa candidates are individuals who are duly authorized by the religious denomination to which they belong, and are fully trained according to the denomination’s standards to conduct religious worship and other duties usually performed by the clergy.
The recipient of the R-1 visa is the beneficiary. The sponsoring group is the petitioner.
R-1 Application Process
An R-1 visa may be issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad only with prior USCIS approval of Form I-129.
Along with Form I-129, the petitioner must include evidence of eligibility. Both the petitioning organization and the religious worker must satisfy certain requirements.
To receive R-1 visa to the US, you have to qualify the following requirements:
- To be a member of a religious denomination for at least two years. The denomination has to have a status of a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the US, exempted from paying taxes or entitled not to do it;
- To have an intention to work in the US as a minister of your confession or a certain religious worker (provided that your religious organization is a nonprofit organization exempted from taxes);
- To live outside the US for at least a year if you had been a holder of this visa for 5 years before.
R-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, so to obtain it you need to attend an interview at a US embassy. The visa applicant needs to show to the embassy employees that the applicant has strong ties with their native country. At the same time you don’t have to have a permanent residence outside the United States and you are not going to change it. Nevertheless, you are expected to demonstrate the intention to leave the United States after your visa expires unless any special circumstances (evidence) arise which will allow you to extend your status.
Proof of Salaried or Non-Salaried Compensation
The petitioning organization must show how the religious worker seeking an R-1 visa (nonimmigrant or immigrant) will be supported in the United States. If self-support is claimed, the petitioner must submit verifiable evidence* that he or she is participating in an established program for temporary, uncompensated missionary work within the petitioning organization. The program must be part of a broader, international program of missionary work sponsored by the petitioning agency.
*The following items are considered verifiable evidence of how the organization will compensate the religious worker, including specific monetary or in-kind compensation:
- Past records of compensation for similar positions.
- A budget showing money set aside for salaries, leases, etc.
- Documentation that room and board will be provided to the religious worker.
Self-Supporting Religious Workers
Copies of the beneficiary’s bank record or budget documenting the sources of self-support. These may include, but are not limited to, personal or family savings, room and board with host families in the United States, donations from the denomination’s churches, or other verifiable evidence.
Period of Stay
The USCIS may grant R-1 status for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months. Subsequent R-1 visa extensions may be granted for up to an additional 30 months. The religious worker’s total period of stay in the United States in R-1 classification may not exceed 60 months.
How can ACS Law Offices, Inc. help me?
The USCIS is more and more attentive to the R-1 visa petitioner’s cases due to an increasing number of cases of fraud and misrepresentation. So, the list of the U.S. establishments authorized to file the l-129 petition requesting an R-1 visa for a new employee has been restricted to a minimum.
If you are eager to move to the U.S. on the R-1 religious visa, please contact ACS Law Offices, Inc. We will analyze the immigration potential for you and your family and find the best solution. Our highly-qualified American attorneys will compile all essential documents and facilitate the process of petitioning itself.