R-1 Religious Workers

An R-1 is a foreign national who is coming to the US temporarily to be employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the US to work in a religious vocation or occupation.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify, the foreign national must be a member of a religious denomination having a non-profit religious organization in the US for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of the petition.

A prospective or existing U.S. employer must file Form I-129, on behalf of an R-1 worker. An R-1 visa cannot be issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad without prior USCIS approval of Form I-129.

Both the petitioning organization and the religious worker must satisfy certain requirements, which are listed in the chart below.

Period of Stay

R-1 status may be granted for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months. Subsequent extensions may be granted for up to an additional 30 months. The religious worker’s total period of stay in the US in R-1 classification cannot exceed 5 years (60 months).

The US counts only time spent physically in the country in valid R-1 status toward the maximum period of stay.

R-2 – Family of R-1 Visa Holders

An R-1 religious worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for R-2 classification. An R-2 dependent is not authorized to accept employment based on this visa classification.

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