R-1 Visa, Religious Workers
This category of visa is for nonimmigrant religious workers who come to the U.S. to work at least 20 hours per week in a non-profit religious organization as either a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation. Immigrant religious workers are discussed under the EB-4 VISA Category and they have different rules and regulations.
The use of the R-1 visa has proven to be a source of fraud within the non-immigrant entry into the U.S. system. Consequently, the Department of Homeland Security and the USCIS have rewritten and strengthened the requirements to obtain this visa.
Eligible Religious Worker
Workers must demonstrate that they are members of a religious denomination non-profit, tax exempt organization existing in the U.S. for at least the two prior years acting as the type of worker they intend to further work as in the U.S. A minister must have a Certificate of Ordination and proof of completing any prescribed courses of theological education or has fulfilled the requirements of the organization's ordainment.
The employing organization must prove its non-profit tax exempt 501(c)(3) status with its Authorizing Determination Letter, proof of the employees salaried or non-salaried compensation, any required missionary evidence and an Attestation of the employees qualifications, nature of the job offered and the legitimacy of the organization. The USCIS may conduct onsite inspections of the employer's organization. A Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) with appeal rights may follow if the organization is substandard.
The application process requires that the employer file USCIS Form I-129, & I-129 R supplement with all accompanying documentation and pay all required filing fees. It should not be filed earlier than 6 months before the start date for the employment. Premium Processing should be available for these R-1 visas.
Duration of Stay
The visa is first granted for up to 30 months and a later extension for up to another 30 months will be considered.
Family members can also attend on separately filed USCIS Form I-129 with similar documentation and upon paying all required filing fees.
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 can also obtain entry under R-2 visas. Spouses and children cannot work but can attend school or college.
Our attorneys have processed many of these visas and are aware of the problems associated with these visas. Remember, "with immigration, nothing is as simple as it first appears"℠.