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R-1 Visa

R-1 Visa for Religious Workers



  • Employed by a nonprofit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with a religious organization in the United States);
  • R-1 visa worker must be member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before the filing of the petition;
  • Will work in the United States in at least a part-time position (average of at least 20 hours per week);
  • Is a minister or will be working in a religious vocation or occupation; and
  • Working for the employer who files the R-1 visa petition for nonimmigrant; and
  • Will not work in any other capacity except as a religious worker.



A prospective or existing U.S. employer must file for an R-1 Visa classification on behalf of the nonimmigrant worker by completing the required forms and submit them with supporting documents. Employer then needs to:

  • Complete the petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.  Review the form instructions for directions on completing the Form I-129 and the relevant Supplements.
  • Submit the Filing Fee(s).  Include the appropriate filing fee with the Form I-129 and biometric services fee (if applicable). Refer to the Form I-129 instructions for further details
  • Submit Evidence.  Include all required initial evidence and supporting documentation for the Form I-129
  • Submit duplicate copies of the Form I-129 and all supporting documents if the beneficiary will be applying for an R-1 visa. Failure to submit a duplicate copy to USCIS with the Form I-129 may result in a delay in the issuance of a nonimmigrant visa abroad from the U.S. Department of State
  • Sign and File the Form I-129. File the petition at the correct filing location according to form instructions.



Once USCIS receives the Form I-129, the employer will then receive:

  • A receipt notice for the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
  • A written notice of a decision

Note: The initial period of admission is 30 months. With approved extensions, the maximum period of stay is five years in the United States If a R-1 nonimmigrant, is in the United States for the total maximum period of five years, then they cannot obtain R-1 status again until they have been outside the United States for the immediate prior year.