This temporary non-immigrant visa is given to foreign nationals wanting to enter the United States in order to work in a religious capacity and allows religious workers, employed by a recognized religious employer, to temporarily enter the U.S. in order to perform and engage in religious duties.
R-1 visa holders are free to exit and re-enter the U.S. without restrictions and do not have to maintain a residence in their home country while in the U.S. R-1 visa holders are allowed to receive wages for their services performed in the U.S. The spouse and children (under the age of 21 and unmarried) of the visa holder can be brought to the U.S. as well by applying for the R-2 visa; however, they may not work while in the U.S. The initial R-1 visa is granted for a period of 30 months (2 ½ years). The R-1 visa holders may apply for an extension of an additional 30 months not to exceed a total of 5 years. Applicants that have worked previously in the U.S. for the maximum period of 5 years on the R-1 visa must spend one year back in their home country before reapplying. If an R-1 visa holders choses to change religious employers while in the U.S., a new petition for a non-immigrant worker visa must be filed by the new employer with USCIS.
In order to be eligible for the R-1 visa, the applicant must meet the following requirements:
- The applicant must represent a legitimate non-profit religious organization that is in tax exempt status.
- Must either be a minister of their religion or work in a religious vocation.
- The applicant must have been a member of their denomination for at least two years prior to the time of their R-1 application.
- Applicants must intend to return to their native country once their visa expires.
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