R-1 Visas (Visas for Religious Workers)

An R1 visa allows temporary non-immigrant religious workers into the United States to work at part-time or full-time for a nonprofit religious organization. For instance, an R1 visa might be granted to a minister or an employee of a church. We have many religious organizations here in the Boston area – and opportunities to get an R1 visa.  To get an R1 visa you must file Form I-129. As with any United States immigration visa, you should not assume that the process will be easy or smooth. The best way to get your visa approved is to work with an immigration lawyer from Day 1. 

If you need help applying for an R-1 visa, contact Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez.  Giselle helps clients with the full range of immigration challenges, including visas. She is bilingual (English & Spanish), and works with clients throughout Greater Boston and Massachusetts. Contact Giselle today to discuss your case, or read on to find out more about protecting your immigration status in the United States.

How long is an R1 visa valid?

An R1 visa is valid for up to 30 months, or 2.5 years. You can get subsequent extensions for another 30 months. Your total stay cannot exceed 5 years.  If you wish to stay in the United States longer than for 5 years, it may be more appropriate to file for an EB-4 employment visa. 

Who can get an R1 visa?

You can get an R1 visa if:

  • You’ve secured employment with a nonprofit religious organization in the United States, or a nonprofit that is affiliated with a religious organization. That employer must file a petition on your behalf.
  • You’ve been a member of a religious denomination with an organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before filing your petition.
  • You will work at least 20 hours a week.
  • You are a minister, missionary, or other person working in a religious vocation or occupation.
  • Will not work in any other capacity.

USCIS might conduct a pre-approval inspection of the place where you will be working to verify your employment status, duties, work hours, and compensation.

Does an R1 visa let you bring family members to the US?

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 might be valid for an R2 visa. They will not be authorized to work in the United States on those visas, however.

Can you study in the US on an R1 visa?

Yes. One benefit of an R1 visa is that you may engage in full-time study in the US, as may R2 dependents.

Does an R1 visa allow for dual-intent immigration?

It does, but you should consult with an immigration attorney before you apply for one. You need to make sure your attorney knows you’ll be seeking an adjustment of status later, so that information may be properly indicated on your application.

The United States takes a dim view of temporary visa applicants who planned from the start to apply for permanent immigration later.  To USCIS, it seems like a “bait and switch.”  You can work with me to make sure that there will never be any accusation of dishonesty later in the process.

Contact me, Giselle Rodriguez, for help on your R1 visa application.