Question 1. Who Is Eligible For R-1 Visa?
You must be a foreign national who, for at least the two years immediately preceding the time of application for admission, have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the U.S.
Question 2. What Is R-1 Religious Worker Visa?
The R-1 religious worker visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals in religious occupations to enter into the U.S. and perform the duties of a religious worker.
Question 3. How Much Will An R-1 Visa Petition Cost?
The petition filing fee for an R-1 is $460. Our legal fee varies depending on the details of the case. Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss our fees with you. Lightman Law Firm takes great pride in offering the highest level of service at an affordable FLAT rate, and we will never pressure you to work with us.
Question 4. How Can I Qualify As Religious Worker For R-1 Visa?
To qualify for R-1 visa, you must be one of the following:
- Minister of religion
- Working in a professional capacity, either in a religious vocation or occupation
- Other religious worker working in a religious occupation or in a religious vocation
Question 5. Can I Study On R-1 Religious Worker Visa?
Yes, you may engage in full time study on R-1 visa.
Question 6. What Privileges Do I Enjoy On R-1 Visa?
On R-1 visa, you may:
- Engage in full time study in the U.S.
- Travel freely in and out of the U.S.
- Receive payment for services performed
- Apply for Green Card
- Apply for R-2 dependent visa for your spouse and unmarried children below 21 years
Question 7. How Long Can I Stay In The U.s. On R-1 Religious Worker Visa?
You may stay in the U.S. on R-1 religious worker visa along with your spouse, and unmarried children under 21 years of age for an initial period of up to 30 months.
Question 8. What Are The Limitations Of R-1 Visa?
On R-1 visa, you may:
- Receive payment only from the religious organization through which the status was obtained
- Take your dependents with you to the U.S. but they may not work
Question 9. Can I Change Employers On R-1 Religious Worker Visa?
Yes, you may change employers on R-1 visa. The new organization seeking to employ you must file a new Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker, with the USCIS and have it approved.
Question 10. Are There Any Travel Restrictions On R-1 Religious Workers Visa?
No, there are no travel restrictions on R-1 religious workers visa. You may travel freely in and out of the U.S. during the validity of your visa.
Question 11. What Are The Documents Required For R-1 Visa?
The documents required for R-1 visa are:
- Filled in Form I-129 nonimmigrant visa application with supporting documents
- Proof that you are working as a minister of religion, or in a religious vocation or occupation, for a bona-fide, non-profit religious organization or denomination that is exempt from taxation
- Proof that you have been a member of the religious organization for at least two years prior to your application
- A contract from the employer in the U.S proof, such as bank statements, that the employer is able to support the applicant above the poverty line
- Recommendation letters to further support your case
- IRS-supplied proof of the tax-exempt status of the religious organization in the U.S.
- Evidence that you are qualified for the work designated in the U.S.
- Documents showing arrangements for financial support.
Question 12. Can I Apply For Green Card While On R-1 Status?
Yes, you may apply for Green Card. To adjust status you must file:
- Form I-360 application for special immigrant and obtain approval.
- Form I-485 application for adjustment of status when priority date for Form I-360 is current.
Question 13. What Type Of Visa Will My Dependents Require?
You may apply for R-2 visa for your spouse and unmarried children below 21 years.
Question 14. Can My Dependents Study On R-2 Visa?
Yes, your dependents may engage in full time study in the U.S.
Question 15. Can My Dependents Work On R-2 Visa?
No, your dependents may not work on R-2 visa.
Question 16. Do I Qualify For An R-1 Visa?
If you are a minister or clergy person or if you are a religious worker, you may qualify for an R-1. However, the best way to answer this question is by calling our offices to discuss your circumstances with an R-1 Visa attorney. The following is a brief list of requirements that all R-1 religious work visa applicants must meet:
- The individual is a member of a religious denomination having a real nonprofit religious organization in the US.
- The religious denomination and its affiliate, if applicable, are exempt from taxation.
- The individual has been a member of the religious denomination for at least 2 years immediately preceding the time of the application.
- The individual is coming to the United States to work at least part-time (average of at least 20 hours per week).
- The individual is entering the United States solely as a minister or to perform a religious vocation or occupation.
- The individual is coming to the United States at the request of the petitioner to work for the petitioner.
- The individual will only work as per the R-1 visa approval.
Question 17. What Qualifies As A “nonprofit Religious Organization” And “affiliated Organization”?
A religious organization is a 501(c)(3) organization exempt from taxation as per the Internal Revenue Code and it possesses a letter from the IRS confirming its tax exempt status. An organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination means an organization which is closely associated with the religious denomination and is exempt from tax under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code.
Question 18. What Are The Characteristics Of A Religious Denomination?
A religious denomination is a religious group or community of believers that is governed or administered under a common type of ecclesiastical Government and will generally be found to have one or more of the following elements:
- A recognized common creed or statement of faith shared among its members;
- A common form of worship;
- A common formal code of doctrine and discipline;
- Common religious services and ceremonies;
- Common established places of religious worship of religious congregations; or
- Comparable indicia of a bona fide religious denomination.
Question 19. What Is Meant By A “religious Vocation”?
Religious vocation means a formal lifetime commitment, through vows, investitures, ceremonies, or similar indicia, to a religious way of life. The religious denomination must have a class of individuals whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as distinguished from the secular members of the religion.
Examples of persons with a religious vocation include, but are not limited to, nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters. An alien who has taken vows and has made a lifelong commitment to a religion is presumed to be engaging in activities relating to a traditional religious function regardless of the nature of the activity. Persons with religious vocations may engage in any type of activity within their religious vocations, denomination, or its affiliate.
For vocation-based R-1 applicants, the emphasis is therefore on what the applicant’s status is within the religious organization, rather than on what the applicant will do in the United States.
Question 20. What Is Meant By A “religious Occupation”?
Religious occupation means an occupation that meets all of the following requirements:
- The duties must primarily relate to a traditional religious function and be recognized as a religious occupation within the denomination;
- The duties must be primarily related to, and must clearly involve, inculcating or carrying out the religious creed and beliefs of the denomination;
- The duties do not include positions that are primarily administrative or support such as janitors, maintenance workers, clerical employees, fund raisers, persons solely involved in the solicitation of donations, or similar positions, although limited administrative duties that are only incidental to religious functions are permissible; and
- Religious study or training for religious work does not constitute a religious occupation, but a religious worker may pursue study or training incident to status.
The activity of a lay-person who will be engaged in a religious occupation must relate to a traditional religious function. The very nature of such activity must, therefore, embody the tenets of the particular religion and have religious significance; i.e., the performance of the activity constitutes “practice” of that religion.
Consequently, working within a religious facility does not, in itself, qualify a lay-person for R-1 classification. The alien must further establish that his or her prospective activity relates primarily, if not exclusively, to matters of the spirit as they apply to his or her religion. It is not necessary that the applicant be engaged in a religious occupation at the time of the visa application or have prior experience with religious work.
Question 21. Can I Study While On The R-1 Visa?
If you are in the United States on an R-1 Visa, you are free to take part in religious study if it is incidental to or related to your position, but this cannot be the only reason you are in the United States.
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