Each year, religious organizations of all kinds across the United States extend job offers to many thousands of religious workers worldwide, in order to meet their diverse and extensive spiritual and pastoral needs throughout the United States, which has some of the most diverse and thriving religious communities in the world.
We assist you and your dependent family members in obtaining the R visa. We prepare the extensive paperwork, guide you through the ever-changing regulations and definitions, coordinate matters between employer and employee, and represent the parties before the USCIS as well as the consulate abroad. We guide the parties through decisions regarding the appropriate job description, in light of strict USCIS regulations and jurisprudence applicable to different types of religious workers, and concern of the U.S. government about the possibility of fraud associated with this type of visa. We represent the parties with respect to experience and educational requirements, financial requirements, foreign degree evaluations, 501(c)(3) tax exemption matters, extensions of stay, and the eventual change from an R-1 visa to another nonimmigrant classification, or to Lawful Permanent Residence, known as a “Green Card” .
The R-1 Visa Is Outlined Below.
The R-1 visa is available to four categories of individuals: 1) those who are authorized by the denomination to conduct religious worship and to perform related duties, such as priests, rabbis, ministers, pastors, and imams; 2) those coming to work in a professional capacity in a vocation or occupation for which the minimum of a United States bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent degree is required; 3) those coming to work in a religious occupation which relates to a traditional religious function, such as liturgical workers, religious instructors, religious counselors, mashgiachs, cantors, catechists, workers in religious hospitals or religious health care facilities, missionaries, religious translators, or religious broadcasters; and 4) those coming to work in a religious vocation, as evidenced by a calling to religious life, such as nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters.
R-1 Visa Privileges:
- You can work legally in the U.S for your U.S. employer for up to five years.
- It is possible to change employers without losing your status or returning to your home country, as long as USCIS procedures are followed and the legal criteria are satisfied regarding the new employer.
- If you are already in the U.S. with a valid immigration status, you may change to the R-1 visa without leaving the country.
- You may travel freely in and out of the U.S. for the term of the visa.
- Visas may be issued to accompanying relatives, who may study, but may not work.
- It is possible to obtain permanent residence status through your employer.
R-1 Visa Prerequisites and Restrictions:
- You must be the recipient of a job offer.
- You must have been a member of a religious denomination having a nonprofit religious organization in the U.S. for at least the two years immediately prior to the application date.
- The U.S. petitioning organization must be a bona fide nonprofit religious organization granted (or eligible for) tax exempt status under Section 501(c) (3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.
- Ministers and Professionals must be coming to work directly for a bona fide religious organization.
- Other religious workers, i.e., those who are not ministers or professionals, may be coming to work either for the religious organization or a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination.
- The religious organization must demonstrate that it can provide for all or your financial and physical needs.