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R-1 (Religious Workers)

R-1 (Religious Workers)

Religious worker visas allow foreign ministers and professional and other religious workers to enter the U.S. temporarily. To qualify for an R visa, the applicant must be:

  • A minister;
  • A person working in a professional capacity in a religious occupation or vocation; or
  • A person who works for a religious organization or an affiliate in a religious occupation who has been a member of the religious group for at least the two years immediately preceding the application; and
  • The individual must be coming to work for a bona fide tax exempt religious organization.

How is affiliated “religion” defined?

A religious denomination is defined as a religious group that has some form of organized statement of faith, common belief system and similar ecclesiastical governing structure. The affiliated groups should have a common set of religious guidelines, perform their religious ceremonies in similar ways, use the same set of ministerial materials such as hymnbooks and worship guides and have congregations.

Does anyone who works for a denomination qualify?

A religious occupation is an activity relating to “traditional religious functions.” This would include religious counselors, cantors, liturgical ministers and workers, religious hospital and health care workers, missionaries, religious translators and broadcasters. It would not include individuals who work for the denomination in a non-religious capacity.

It would also include anyone who is in a religious vocation, defined as someone called to religious life and service. This must be shown through demonstrated commitment to the denomination, the taking of vows and other types of life commitments. This would include nuns, monks, brothers, and deacons.

How long can I have R status?

The maximum stay in R-1 status is 5 years. A person can obtain R-1 status again after remaining outside the U.S. for one year before making another application.

What visa status would the spouse and children of an R-1 nonimmigrant receive?

Spouses and children of R-1 nonimmigrants and classified as R-2. They are not permitted to work in R-2 status.

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Effective March 25, 2020, in response to “Stay at Home” orders Joseph & Hall PC is closed to the public and is now conducting nearly all of its operations remotely during the COVID-19 health crisis through April 18th.

We continue to have a limited number of staff in our office to perform basic operations such as assembling and filing petitions, receiving and distributing mail and issuing checks. We are grateful to be in a business that is conducive to remote work and for all of your patience and support.  Our lawyers and paralegals are here to answer the array of questions that continue to arise daily and will keep you informed during these rapidly changing times.  We will hold telephonic or video meetings rather than in-person meetings.  These meetings can be done by SKYPE or Zoom Conference call so that you can continue to interact with your legal team, face-to-face.

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