R Type Visa

If a foreign national is travelling to the US on a temporary basis as a religious worker e.g. working as a minister (or other religious vocation) then they require a R-1 visa to provide the relevant permission to enter the US for those purposes.

Requirements for a R-1 visa

The requirements include that the person must entering the US to be employed as a minister (or alternative religious vocation) for a minimum of 20 hours per week on average. They can only work for non-profit organizations in the US (and be able to provide the relevant evidence to show this). The applicant of a R-1 visa must be visiting the US with the sole purpose of performing their religious occupation.
To be eligible for a R Type visa, the applicant must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit, tax-exempt religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately preceding the time of application.
It is often difficult to have the R-1 visa approved without providing extensive information and evidence of the qualifications, role and responsibilities etc. The USCIS will send a Request for Evidence (RFE) if they are not satisfied with the information that is initially provided to them. It is important that a response to a RFE is provided within adequate time, or it will affect the approval of the petition and be declined if left too long.

Applying for R-1 visa

As part of the application process, the applicant will be required to provide proof of religious qualification, as well as proof of the religious organization’s tax-exempt status. The first step of applying for the R-1 visa is for the employer to complete the Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker. The USCIS will review the application to determine whether the petitioning organization and the beneficiary have met their eligibility requirements.
The R-1 visa will allow permission for a stay in the US for up to 30 months although extensions can be applied for, following the 30 month period.

Dependents of R-1 visa holders

The spouse and any children (aged under 21) of a R-1 visa holder may apply for the R-2 visa which allows study in the US but does not allow the holder to seek employment in the US.
If the R-2 applicant is looking to gain employment in the US then they will require an appropriate working visa that provides permission to work in the US. When the R-1 visa holder’svisa expires, the R-2 visa is also no longer valid and the holder must leave the US.