R1 — Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

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No country in the world has such religious diversity as in the US. 76.6% of the population consider themselves religious. Most of them are Christians.

There are groups of Jews and Muslims, but not as big as it might seem in movies and serials. And also representatives of new religions, for example, druids, Wicca, the movement “New Thought”, pastafarianists and others.

Who can apply for a religious visa

Multiple working religious visa R-1 is issued at the invitation of a religious organization registered in the United States.

The applicant enters the territory of the United States with a working purpose, depending on his status: for conducting church rites, performing duties of a clergyman, or performing any work for the church in particular and the confession in general.

You can apply for a religious visa:

  • people who have received professional religious education;
  • priests, rabbis, pastors (clerics);
  • church workers who do not have a dignity or religious education – soloists of the church choir, missionaries, methodologists, religious translators, teachers in church schools, hospital staff under the patronage of the church;
  • adherents of the church, for whom religion has become a calling and way of life: monks, nuns, spiritual brothers, and sisters.

On the R-1 visa can’t obtain by the staff church laborers, flyers distribution, cleaners, watchmen, clerks, collectors of alms. It is important to understand that a religious visa is issued, so to speak, by vocation, and not by a formal place of work.

The activity of the applicant must be directly connected with the confessional confession. Thus, for example, a church advertiser or distributor of religious leaflets can’t be considered an applicant for an R-1 visa.

Rights and duty of R1 religious worker

The R1 religious worker visa us is issued for a period of five years and gives the right to repeatedly enter and leave the country, but the first visit of the US should not exceed 30 months.

Subsequently, the length of stay can be increased by another 30 months. After two years of validity of a religious visa, you can apply for a Green Card.
In this case, the applicant must prove that within two years he worked in a religious organization at the full rate as a hired employee or volunteer and plans to continue his activities thereafter in the United States .

A religious visa can be applied for and a second time, provided that after the expiration of the first applicant has lived outside the United States for at least a year.

Requirements for applicants R1 visa

At the time of filing a document for a religious visa, the applicant must be a member of the sponsoring religious community for at least two years, and the community itself must be recognized by the United States as a non-profit religious organization and exempt from taxes.

To obtain an R-1 visa, the following basic documents are required:

  • Petition from the host party (I-129);
  • Form I-797 (Notice of action);
  • Proof that you have been an active member of a religious organization for a long time;
  • Confirmation of registration of the religious organization of which you are a member;
  • If you work in an organization associated with a particular faith, you need to provide a description of the relationship between the two organizations;
  • international passport;
  • local passport + copies of all pages;
  • questionnaire;
  • confirmation of registration of the questionnaire;
  • electronic photo (requirements);
  • Check on payment of a consular fee;
  • Confirmation of an appointment for an interview;
  • Statutory documents of your organization in accordance with the current legislation of the state;
  • Confirmation of the activity of your religious organization;
  • A copy of the marriage/divorce registration certificate;
  • Copy of the birth certificate of children (under 18 years);
  • Copies of documents for real estate/car and etc.

You may also need:

  • A certificate from the US Internal Revenue Service that the host organization is exempt from tax;
  • To obtain a visa for the husband/wife and children accompanying the applicant, it is necessary to provide the originals of documents confirming family ties with him (birth certificate of children, certificate of marriage).

R1 visa application procedure: step by step

  • Step 1. Pay a visa application fee.
  • Step 2. Fill out the application form for obtaining a nonimmigrant visa (DS-160).
  • Step 3. Sign up for an interview on this page. To record for an interview, you must provide information about the numbers of the following three documents:
    • Number of your passport;
    • The number of the receipt of the Bank (to find out this number, click here);
    • Ten-digit (10-digit) barcode number from the DS-160 application confirmation page.
  • Step 4.Come for an interview at the US Embassy on the appointed day and time. Take with you a printed copy of the invitation letter for the interview, the DS-160 application confirmation page, one photo taken during the last six months, your current foreign passport, and the original receipt for the payment of the consular fee.

Applications are accepted only if all of the above documents are available.

Interview for a religious visa in the USA

The interview is an obligatory part of the procedure for registering a religious visa in the United States. After paying the consular fee you will have the opportunity to make an appointment for an interview on a convenient date. At the appointed time, you should report to the US Embassy for an interview and the delivery of biometric data.

The interview takes place in English or Russian of your choice. A visa officer will ask questions about your religious activities in the United States, as well as the information specified in the questionnaire. An embassy employee can request additional documents, which should be prepared in advance. Our specialists will tell you what kind of papers this should be.

The interview lasts an average of 5-10 minutes. If the result is positive, after the interview ends, the passport of the applicant remains in the visa officer. Within a few days, it will be delivered by courier service with a visa.

Can you change jobs while in the US on R-1 visa

An American religious visa allows you to work at least 20 hours a week and gives you the opportunity to change an employer who must necessarily be a religious organization. The R visa does not give the right to work outside the religious organization and its affiliates in the USA.

In order for the R-1 visa holder to change jobs, a new employer must send a petition to the USCIS under Form I-129, and the previous one to inform USCIS that his cooperation with you is over.

When you beginning applying process for a religious visa, it is important to take into account a lot of nuances and correctly draw up all the required documents.
No matter how important your trip, it may not take place at the slightest error made during the execution of documents.