R-1 VISA for Religious Workers

The R-1 classification is for religious workers seeking to enter the United States. R-1 visas are issued for five years. A person who has already received an R-1 visa must stay outside of the United States for at least one year before applying to enter the United States again in R-1 status. 

To qualify for an R-1 visa, a religious worker must be.

Applying for an R-1 Visa

If you are outside the United States and want to apply for an R-1 visa, you should complete and submit Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application and then schedule an appointment with your local United States embassy or consulate to apply for the visa. You must submit the electronic version of Form DS-156. 

If you are inside the United States and want to change your status to R-1, you must file Form I-129, Petition for Alien Worker, along with the R Supplement, with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. You must also use this form to apply for extensions of R-1 status. 

The key document to present at the visa interview is proof of the religious group’s tax exempt status, or its eligibility for tax-exempt status, in the United States. You should also provide a letter from an official of the religious group that will be employing you that describes how you meet the requirements of one of the three religious worker categories and the nature of your work in the United States. 

R-2 Visas for Family Members of R-1 Religious Workers: Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to accompany R-1 religious workers on R-2 status. Persons in R-2 status may study but not work in the United States. 

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