The R-1 classification applies to a religious worker. This is an
alien coming to the U.S. temporarily to work:
• As a minister of religion,If the alien is outside the U.S., he or she may apply directly to a
• As a professional in a religious vocation or
• For a bona fide nonprofit religious organization at
the request of the organization, in a religious
occupation which relates to a traditional religious
• The applicant (religious worker) must have been a
member of a religious denomination having a
nonprofit religious organization in the United States
for at least the two years immediately prior to the
To be eligible, the U.S. petitioning
organization must be a nonprofit religious
organization granted (or eligible for) tax exempt
status, and must demonstrate that it can and will
provide for all of the R-1 beneficiary’s financial and
consulate for an R visa. If visa exempt, the alien may apply at a
port of entry.
If the alien is inside the U.S., the religious organization may use
the I-129 to petition for a change of status, extension of stay, or
change of employment.
Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of
age) of R-1 workers are entitled to R-2 status with the same
restrictions as the principal. Dependents may be students in the
U.S., but may not be employed under the R-2 classification.
NOTE: Dependents should file for a change of status or
extension of stay on Form I-539 (Application to Extend/change
Petition Document Requirements
The I-129 petition may be filed by an authorized official of the U.
S. organization and must be filed with:
- A written statement from an authorized official of the
religious organization that will be employing the alien
establishing that the alien has been a member of the
denomination for the required two years, a description of
the proposed position, and that the alien is qualified for the
position, the arrangements, if any, for salary, benefits, and
other compensation the name and location of the place the
alien will provide the services the organization’s affiliation
with the denomination (note: if the alien is to be employed,
the USCIS requires that this letter be from the
organizational unit responsible for maintainingI-9’s);
- Evidence showing that the religious organization or any
affiliate which will engage the alien’s services is a bona fide
nonprofit, religious organization in the U.S. and is exempt
from taxation in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the
Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
Filing the I-129 Petition:
USCIS Form I-129 consists of a basic petition and different
supplements that apply to the various visa categories. In order to
petition for a temporary worker, the prospective employer or
agent must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and
the appropriate supplement with the U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) accompanied by the required
payment, and initial evidence or documentation.
Once the petition is approved, the employer or agent is sent a
Notice of Approval, Form I-797. Approval of a petition does not
guarantee visa issuance to an applicant. Applicants must also
establish that they are admissible to the U.S. under provisions of
the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Applying for the Visa:
If the prospective worker (beneficiary) is outside of the country,
he must apply for a visa. After the USCIS has approved the I-129
and sent notice to the consulate in the beneficiary’s country, the
beneficiary must file a visa application with the consulate. Some
aliens may be visa exempt. In those cases, the I-129 approval
notice is sent to the port of entry (POE) where the beneficiary
intends to apply for admission.
For specific procedures on Visa Application Procedures,
Required Documentation and Visa Ineligibility Waiver, please visit
Visa Services at the Department of State.
If the beneficiary is already in the U.S. and is changing from one
nonimmigrant status to another, a visa is not required. However, a
visa may be required if the beneficiary subsequently leaves the U.
S. and wishes to re-enter.
Entry into the U.S.
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry
into the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection
(CBP) has authority to deny admission at the port of entry to any
applicant who is inadmissible under INA, even if the applicant has
Also, the CBP, not the consular officer, determines the period for
which the bearer of a temporary work visa is authorized to remain
in the United States. At the port of entry, CBP officials issue Form
I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay
permitted. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension
of stay, however, is made solely by the USCIS.
When to file:
Petitions should be filed as soon as possible, but no more than 6
months before the proposed employment will begin or the
extension of stay is required. If the petition is not submitted at
least 45 days before the employment will begin, petition
processing and subsequent visa issuance may not be completed
before the alien's services are required or previous employment
BOGLE & CHANG, LLC
Copyright © 2010 Bogle & Chang, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
R1 Work Visa: Temporary Religious Worker