R-1 Visa

R-1 Visa is a type of temporary nonimmigrant worker visa issued to individuals who seek to serve in a religious capacity in the U.S.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • The applicant must be employed by a religious organization or an organization that is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States. Organizations must be doing solely non-profit work. 
  • The applicant must be a member of the religious denomination for which s/he plans to work in the U.S.  for at least 2 years. 
  • Employment must be at least part-time which means working at least 20 hours per week. 
  • The applicant must be employed either as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation. Workers involved in nonreligious works such as event management, maintenance, and fundraising do not qualify for R-1 Visa.

Family Members:

The spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of the R-1 Visa holders can apply for R-2 (Dependent Visa) for the duration of the R-1 visa. 


Your initial stay can be a maximum of 30 months. The maximum stay on an R-1 Visa cannot exceed 60 months. 

Yes! Extensions are granted in increments for up to 30 months.  

No. Family members are not permitted to work on R-1 status. 

Yes! The fourth preference of the Green Card-through Employment category allows religious workers to seek permanent residency as special immigrants.

To learn more about the issue, please see Fourth Preference Employment-based Immigration.    

A Minister Worker is an authorized person by religious domination to undertake and oversee religious activities of the religious organization.

Ministers cannot only be priests, imams, and rabbis but also Buddhist monks, ordained deacons, etc.   

Religious vocation or religious occupation entails non-clergy work. This comprises works that are essential to the traditional function of the religious organization such as liturgy, religious counseling, religious translation, religious health care, etc. 

The requirements for both Green Card and R-1 Visa are almost identical with one minor but critical difference.

While the Green Card application requires you to have worked for at least two continuous years in religious domination, R-1 Visa only requires you to be a member of the religious domination for the same amount.   


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