R-1- Members of Religious Organizations


Eligibility: The following individuals or entities will be eligible for the R-1 visa.

  • Foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to act as the minister of a religious group or community. A minister includes deacons, officers of the Salvation Army and practitioners of Christian Science.
  • Nonprofit religious organizations in the U.S., employing foreign religious workers to work in religious vocations. Such vocations include liturgical workers, catechists, religious translators, religious broadcasters, religious instructors or cantors, and missionaries.

Entry: No longer than 5 years and is not subject to INA §214(b).

Spouse and Children: The spouse and children may accompany the principal visa holder or follow him/her at a later time.

USCIS Approval: There is no requirement that USCIS approval be granted at a prior time if the petition is filed at the consulate.

Evidence, Admission and Procedures 8 C.F.R. §214.2(r)(4), (5), (6) and (7).:

  • Application: Application is made at the consular post or if the petitioner is in the U.S. then on an I-129 for a C/S. The applicant is not required to have an approved I-129 to gain a visa at the consular post. Canadians may apply for an R-1 at the border.
  • Admission: Initially given for 3 years. E/S is requested on an I-129 and will be granted for up to 2 years. The total period of stay allowed on an R visa is 5 years. After the 5-year period, the individual must be physically present and reside outside the U.S. for one year in order to be eligible for an R visa again, with the exception of brief visits.
  • Spouse and Children: The principal’s spouse and children will be given R-2 status.
  • Change of Employer: If there is a change in employer then a new I-129 must be filed.