Corporations / Employees
EligibilityYou can be considered eligible for this classification if you meet the following criteria:
You must be a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide religious organization in the US for a minimum of two years before applying.
You will be employed by a non-profit religious organization in the US or either by an organization affiliated with the religious organization
You will work in the US at least for 20 hours per week
You will work for the employer who files your petition
You are a minister and will work in a religious occupation
You will not work in any other capacity except the religious worker
ProcessOn your behalf, the US employer needs to file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. The employer and the religious worker both need to meet certain criteria which should be supported with satisfactory evidence The petitioner must document all of the locations where the R-1 nonimmigrant will be working. If there is a chance that the R-1 nonimmigrant will be shifted between different locations within a larger organization, the larger organization will need to file the petition.
In case the employer believes that any requirement of the classification burdens the organization’s exercise of religion, it can seek exemption under the RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act). Such an exemption requires that a written request be made at the time of the initial filing. The request needs to explain how a particular provision:
Requires participation in an activity prohibited by a sincerely held religious belief, or
Prevent participation in conduct that is motivated by religious beliefs
Spouse and unmarried children below 21 years of age can apply for R-2 Visas. These visas will allow such derivative beneficiaries to stay in the US; however, they will not be allowed to accept employment during that time.
R-1 Visas may be issued both to members of the clergy and to lay religious workers, for an initial term of up to 30 months, and then to a maximum stay of five years.