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R-1 Visas: For Ministers and Other Religious Vocations

Members of the clergy and people with other religious vocations or occupations from other countries may come to the U.S. with R-1 or R visas for the purpose of working at least half-time in nonprofit religious organizations. An R-1 or R visa holder must have been a member of the religious group or denomination for at least two years before applying for such a visa.

Common Questions And Answers About R-1 Visas

What is a “religious vocation or occupation” under R-1?

To meet the criteria for an R-1 visa, a position in a religious organization must involve habitual engagement in an activity that relates to traditional religious functions. The activity should reflect the religion’s doctrines and hold religious importance, focusing primarily, if not solely, on spiritual matters as they pertain to the religion. The position should also be recognized as a religious occupation within the respective denomination and promote the denomination’s religious beliefs and standards.

What types of “religious organizations” can sponsor an R visa?

A tax-exempt nonprofit religious organization located within and affiliated with the United States is eligible to sponsor applications for R visas.

Can my spouse and children come with me on my R visa?

Yes, an R-1 religious worker may bring a spouse and children on R-2 visas, which do not authorize U.S. employment.

How long can I stay on R-1 status?

After an initial 30-month stay on an R-1 visa, extensions may be granted for a total of up to five years.

Contact Fok Immigration Law to Learn More

We are prepared to guide you through the process of securing the visa that suits your needs. We help workers secure temporary work visas and we also assist with family immigration. Call our San Jose office at 408-606-8911 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.

Note: The information above is derived and summarized from a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) source.