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What Is a R-1 Visa?
The R-1 or Religious Visa was created to help individuals coming to the U.S. to work primarily for a non-profit religious organization or an organization that is affiliated with a religious denomination. An applicant for an R-1 Visa will need to be employed at least part-time as a minister or similar position; administrative and clerical positions will not qualify for the R-1 Visa, and a minister cannot be employed in any other line of work than the non-profit or ministry. If approved, the R-1 minister will be granted a visa for a period of 30 (2.5) to 60 months (5 years), and extensions are permitted.
Requirements for Getting an R-1 Visa
To qualify for an R-1 visa, there are several requirements for the R-1 applicant and the sponsoring organization.
A person applying for the R-1 visa must meet the following criteria:
- Be a member of the religious denomination for at least 2 years immediately before filing the petition
- Find a job in the non-profit religious organization, or an organization affiliated with the religion
- Be a minister or a person working directly in religious activities
- Work at least 20 hours per week
- Not work in other positions other than their direct religious capacity
The religious organization or non-profit must:
- Have a non-profit organization in the United States
- Have a tax exemption
- Be affiliated with a religion which has tax exemptions under IRS codes
If both the person and the religious organization or non-profit meet the criteria, the application process can begin. Because there are so many religious organizations in the world, the United States Department of Homeland Security has defined what it means to be in a religion and be eligible for an R-1 Visa.
A religion or religious denomination has theses characteristics:
- A community of people who believe and are governed by rules of an ecclestical government
- Worship similarly in a place of worship
- Have shared faith among the members
- Have a shared code of disciple, doctrine, and morals
- Have religious organizations
- Perform similar rituals, services, and ceremonies
Steps to File for an R-1 Visa
There are a number of steps in the R-1 visa process. Let’s review those steps here:
1. Organization Files Petition
The first step to file for a R-1 visa is that the organization must file the necessary forms to petition for a nonimmigrant worker. There are a number of pieces of evidence the religious organization must file, including:
- Letter from IRS proving tax exemption status
- Proof that they compensate religious workers with a salary or in-kind benefits such as:
- Past documentation showing compensation of religious workers in similar roles
- Proof that they provide proper accommodations to the worker
- Budget documents that show planned expenses for the new employee(s)
If the organization has a religious affiliation but not defined as a religious organization, it must submit the following documents:
- Letter from the IRS proving tax exemption status
- Proof of religious affiliation
- Proof that their purpose is related to the religion
- A letter from a religious organization stating that the organization has a religious connection
2. Filling Out Forms and Paying the Fees
There are several forms required to be filled out, and fees that must be paid. A qualified lawyer can help ensure that your forms are filled out properly and all paperwork with appropriate evidence is complete and mailed to the right address.
3. Scheduling a Visa Interview
The next step is for the applicant to schedule a visa interview with an official at a nearby U.S. embassy in your country of origin.
4. Preparing your R-1 Documents
You must collect several documents to establish necessary proof of your intent to work in the United States as a religious worker. These documents include:
- Proof of your eligibility for a R-1 Visa, showing that you belong to a religious organization for a least 2 years and recommendation letters from religious organizations you’ve had
- Contract with your new U.S. employer
- Proof of educational qualifications
- Proof of financial support or that your religious employer will compensate you
5. Attending the Visa Interview
The final step in the process is to bring all your documents with you to your visa interview, where an official will ask you questions about your background, your intentions and purposes for visiting the United States.
A qualified immigration lawyer can help guide you through all 5 steps above, help you collect all necessary documents and proof, as well as help you prepare for your visa interview to put your best foot forward for R-1 visa success.
Need to Apply for a R-1 Visa? Hire a Top Immigration Lawyer in Miami, Florida
Do you need to apply for a R-1 Visa? You’ve come to the right place. Immigration Lawyers USA are top immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida and are able to help you navigate the complexities of qualifying and applying for a R-1 Visa. Give Immigration Lawyers USA a call at 305-501-0783 or contact us here to schedule your consultation.