R-1 Visa

An R-1 visa enables you to come to the U.S. to work full-time or part-time (at least 20 hours per week) employed by a U.S. non-profit tax-exempt religious organization as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.


Requirements for R-1

1. The employer must have either:

----- A valid IRS determination letter stating that the employer is a 501(c)(3) organization; or

----- A valid IRS determination letter stating that the denomination (which the employer is affiliated with) is a 501(c)(3) organization, AND the denomination's letter confirming the employer's affiliation/membership.

2. The employer must be capable of compensating the religious worker (salaried or non-salaried).  There are limited exceptions where the religious worker will be allowed to be self-supporting.

3. The religious worker must have been a member of the same religious denomination as the U.S. employer for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of the I-129 petition.

4. The religious worker must be coming to the U.S. to work as a minister, in a religious voaction, or in a religious occupation.


How to apply

1. First, the U.S. employer has to file a Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, along with proper Supplements and supporting documents, with USCIS.

2. Once the I-129 petition is approved, the employee can apply for an R-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate.



Dependents (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of R-1 workers are entitled to R-2 visas/status.  R-2 dependents may study, but cannot engage in employment in the U.S.


Period of Stay

USCIS may grant R-1 status for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months.  Subsequent extensions may be granted for up to an additional 30 months.  An R-1 worker’s total period of stay in the U.S. cannot exceed 5 years in total.  Only time an R-1 worker physically stays in the U.S. in R-1 status counts towards the 5-year limit.