R-1 Visa: What You Need to Know?

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Foreign nationals interested in pursuing religious work in the United States may consider applying for an R-1 visa. This temporary nonimmigrant visa offers various benefits, including allowing religious devouts to work for a qualifying non-profit religious organization or church. The visa category applies to multiple types of spiritual workers, including, but not limited to, ministers, priests, religious educators, translators, and missionaries. If you believe you are eligible for an R-1 visa, please don’t hesitate to contact an adept New Jersey Immigration Lawyer who can help guide you through the application process.

What is an R-1 Visa?

The R-1 visa is designed to allow nonimmigrants to enter the U.S. to develop their religious vocation, occupation, or ministry. For instance, those purusing a religious vocation may include nuns, monks, or others who undertake a lifetime vow to practice a specific religion. To qualify for an R-1 visa, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires the foreign national and their employer to meet particular eligibility criteria. The following include the qualifications for individuals to be eligible for an R-1 visa:

  • Foreign nationals must have at least a two-year membership with a recognized religious denomination and a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the U.S.
  • The same religious organization must offer a temporary U.S.-based position for an average of at least 20 hours per week
  • You must serve as a clergy member or perform a religious occupation

Moreover, to be eligible to file petitions for R-1 visas, an organization must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Non-profit religious organization in the U.S.
  • Religious organization that a group tax exemption holder authorizes to use its group tax exemption
  • Non-profit organizations affiliated with religious denominations in the U.S.

How to Apply?

To apply for an R-1 visa, the religious employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. USCIS usually visits the congregation to confirm the relationship between the employer and the religious denomination. Once the petition has been filed and the employer has received approval through Form I-797, the foreign national can begin the application process.

It’s important to understand that all nonimmigrant visa applicants are required to fill out Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application. This form includes several questions regarding your background and the purpose of the visit to the U.S. From here; you will have to undergo an interview with an official at the U.S. embassy or consult in your home country.

If the application is approved, the primary benefit of the R-1 visa is that it permits religious workers to legally reside and work in the U.S. for up to five years. Additionally, spiritual workers can bring their spouses and unmarried children under 21 under an R-2 visa.

At the Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC, you can depend on our legal team to guide you through each phase of the process ahead. If you are considering applying for an R-1 visa, it’s in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable New Jersey immigration lawyer who can help you achieve your goals.

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