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R-1 Visa – Religious Workers

R-1 nonimmigrant visas are issued to certain religious workers. R-1 visas are issued to ministers or persons working in professional position in a religious vocation or occupation or persons working for a religious organization in a religious vocation or occupation. Professional occupations are usually occupations which require a minimum of Bachelor's degree. Religious occupation is defined as an occupation incorporating "traditional religious function." Some of the religious occupations include the following: cantors, religious broadcasters, liturgical workers, pastors and pastoral assistants.

R-1 religious workers must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately preceding the application for R-1 status. A bona fide religious denomination has a recognized form of worship, a formal code of disciplines, religious services and religious congregations.

Initial admission as an R-1 is for three (3) years. Then additional two years of extension may be requested. After holding an R-1 status for maximum of five years, the R-1 religious worker need to leave the United States and spend at least one year outside before he is again allowed to come back to the United States and work in R-1 status.

Spouse and children of R-1 religious worker are granted R-2 status. They cannot accept employment in the United States.

 

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