United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) amended the religious worker visa regulations in 2008. Under these new regulations, the following is a partial list of what must be met for USCIS to approve a religious worker nonimmigrant visa petition:

  1. The religious worker must have been a member of the sponsoring employer’s religious denomination for at least two years prior to filing the religious worker application;
  2. The religious worker must work at least 20 hours per week for the sponsoring employer;
  3. The religious worker must be coming to the United States to be a “minister” or to work in a religious vocation or occupation;
  4. The sponsoring employer must be a nonprofit religious organization in the United States; and
  5. The sponsoring employer must be able to show that it has the financial ability to compensate the religious worker.

As part of the application process, USCIS may also choose to visit the sponsoring employer to verify everything that was listed in the application. If the application is approved, then the religious worker can enter the United States with an R-1 visa and their dependents can receive R-2 visas. Under these new regulations, the religious worker can be admitted for up to 30 months before having to apply for an extension. The total amount of time the religious worker can be in the United States is 5 years before having to return to their home country.

These are just some general guidelines meant to give a brief overview of the religious worker (R-1) nonimmigrant visa. If you have additional questions, or would like assistance with filing a religious worker petition with USCIS, then please contact our office at 313-963-2505 .

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